A false conflation between duties and rights

News: The question of rights(FR) blending with duties requires careful consideration. The duties here mean the ideals that were written into the constitution as Fundamental Duties (FD), Article 51A.

About the opinions of blending FR and FD

One opinion is that the blending should create a balance between fundamental duties and rights.

Another view is that citizens should converge fundamental duties and rights. It is clear that when a person holds rights, s/he is owed an obligation by the duty holder, but the government’s view is different.

Read here: Difference between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties

How is the Government proposal different?

The government position proposes that rights ought to be made conditional on the performance of extraneous obligations.

What was the view held by the constituent assembly?

The emphasis on dignity was important, and it guaranteed basic human rights like equality, autonomy, liberty, and others. The idea of contingent rights was considered repugnant.

But rights were not made absolute, and part III of the constitution also contained limitations of the rights. Any curtailment of rights would thus need legislative sanction and should be reasonable as per the constitution.

How did fundamental duties evolve?

They were not present in the original form of the constitution. They were added after the Swaran Singh Committee recommendations through the 42nd constitutional amendment and Article 51A.

It encouraged citizens to cherish noble ideas, uphold and protect the sovereignty of India among other provisions.

Read here: Explained: What Fundamental Duties mean

How should a balance between rights and duties establish?

To balance them, one should discuss the nature of duties that rights create. For example, the right to freedom of expression requires the state to work towards creating an equal society where each person can express herself freely.

Source: This post is based on the article “A false conflation between duties and rights” published in The Hindu on 16th December 2021.

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