Enforcing Fundamental Duties: SC asks Centre to inform on steps undertaken so far

THE Attorney General [AG] for India, K.K. Venugopal, on Monday, took objection to a Public Interest Litigation [PIL] seeking to enforce fundamental duties as envisaged in the Constitution of India. Venugopal informed the Supreme Court that an enormous amount of work to sensitize citizens on the importance of knowing their fundamental duties has already been done, information about which is available on the government website. He added that it was the duty of the petitioner to undertake some homework before filing the petition.

Venugopal was responding to a PIL filed by advocate, Durga Dutt.

On February 21 this year, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh issued a notice in the matter to the Government of India and the state governments, besides seeking the assistance of Venugopal.

During the hearing held today, the bench asked the AG whether he would be filing an affidavit giving all the work done, as mentioned by him. The AG responded that it would be filed by the government since he was appearing as AG after the court sought his assistance. The bench was then informed that the Solicitor General would be appearing on behalf of the union government. The bench thus adjourned the matter to July, and directed the union and state governments to file their responses.

Venugopal also told the court that the prayers sought for by the petitioner were not maintainable since the Court cannot issue a writ of mandamus to the Parliament to enact a law. The bench clarified that it had issued notice on a very narrow compass asking it to inform what steps it has taken pursuant to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Hon’ble Shri Ranganath Mishra vs. Union of India & Ors. (2003) or does it propose to take any steps in furtherance thereof.

In Ranganath Mishra, the Supreme Court had taken note of the Report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, wherein a report made by a Committee commonly known as ‘Justice J.S. Verma Committee’ on operationalization of suggestions to teach fundamental duties to citizens had been accepted, and a strong suggestion had been made for their early implementation. The Commission, inter alia, recommended to sensitise the public and create general awareness of the provisions of fundamental duties amongst the citizens on the lines suggested by the Justice Verma Committee on the subject. The court had closed the proceedings in this case with a direction to the union government to take appropriate steps for their implementation as expeditiously as possible.