Like rights, duties are also classified as moral and legal duties. A moral duty is one which an individual should perform on moral grounds. It is enjoined by conscience or social opinion. A legal duty is one which is imposed by law and enforced by the coercive power of the State. To respect one’s parents or one’s elders, to show kindness to the poor, the distressed, etc, are moral duties. One cannot be punished by law if he does not fulfil them. Legal duties are to pay taxes to the government, not to injure other persons or property, etc. If a man does not perform them, the State will compel him to do so by means of punishment imposed by law.
Duties of citizen towards the State
If a State is known by the rights it maintains, a citizen is judged by the duties he fulfils. He has duties towards other citizens, associations and the State. We shall here enumerate some of his duties and obligations towards the State.
Obedience of law
The most important duty of the citizen is to obey the laws of the State. It is the hall-mark of good citizenship. A good citizen obeys a law even if he believes it to be against the common good or oppressive or bad. He must not disobey it, because such an act would destroy the basis of good government, peace and progress. Disobedience of laws is like a contagious disease: it spreads from citizen to citizen and from law to law. Hence to disobey a law because it is bad is-“a political mistake and a public calamity. A citizen has however constitutional and peaceful means of persuading his fellow-citizens of the desirability of changing the laws which he believes to be morally bad or oppressive. In a democratic State he can bring about this change by electing new representatives to the legislature.
Allegiance to the State
Another supreme duty of the citizen is the allegiance or loyalty to the State to which he belongs. Allegiance means whole-hearted service to the State. The duty of allegiance implies the duty to defend the State against its enemies in times of war, aggression and rebellion, to support the officials of the State in the performance of their duties, and to perform public duties. In short, allegiance means loyalty public service and subordination of the personal interests to the national interests. Concrete examples of allegiance are the readiness of the citizens to co-operate with the police in maintaining law and order, to uphold their country’s honour, to make it strong and prosperous, to educate their children, and to obey its laws.
Payment of taxes
Payment of taxes in time is another duty of the citizens. Government needs money to perform its multifarious functions and finance its increasing number of activities. But this money must come from the pockets of the people. If they evade the payment of taxes, the government will fail to maintain law and order and discharge its responsibilities. Modern State is ‘Public Services State.’ The more funds it has the more services it can render to the people. Hence prompt and honest payment of the taxes by the citizens is the best guarantee of promoting common good and general welfare of the nation.
Duty to vote
Every democratic State has granted the right to its citizens to vote. But it is no less a duty than right. The form and functions of a government are determined by the votes of the people. The people should cast their votes honestly, intelligently and conscientiously in order to elect good representatives. Hence voting is a duty.
Duties of the State
Just as the citizens have duties towards the State, so the State also has duties towards the citizens. The only difference between the two is that the duties of the citizens are enforceable by law, while those of the State are not so enforceable. Nevertheless, no democratic State which cares for the well-being and happiness of the people can fail to fulfil its duties. In modem times, the number and importance of its duties are multiplying because modern State has become a public service State or a welfare State. The duties of the State are economic, educational, cultural, and social in nature.
It seeks to promote national well-being to the highest degree, secure equality and justice for all its citizens, provide free and universal education for all, maintain libraries, museums, etc., prevent sickness and poverty, and adopt social security schemes against old age, unemployment etc. The duties and ideals of State-action are so important that these have been incorporated in the constitution by the several States as, ‘Directive Principles of the State Policy’; Pakistan has too made similar provisions in the constitution.