On doing Duty

स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरतः संसिद्धि लभते नरः We believe that our Constitution expects all the organs of the State to discharge their constitutionally and legally prescribed duties (कर्तव्य kartavya ). The shloka bids everyone to do his duty. Article 51A of our Constitution prescribes the fundamental duties of ‘every citizen’. Article 84 prescribes that none can ever be a member of Parliament unless he is ‘a citizen of India’. Hence, it is clear that all the duties, which Article 51A casts on ordinary citizens, are also the duties prescribed for the members of Parliament. I recall, while delivering my concluding address before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the Indo-Mauritius Tax Treaty Abuse Case, I quoted Lord Nelson’s electric signal to his fleet at the battle of Trafalgar; “England expects that every man will do his duty”; and then I, as the Petitioner before the Court, added: “India expects that every citizen will his duty”.
The determination of one’s kartavya in a given moment is difficult. It is context-specific, and can change from moment to moment. Kartavya is one’s perception of the right line of action. But ‘kartavya’ can be determined by a person when he knows things well, when he has perceived and considered all the parameters with wisdom (viveka).


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