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Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable section

Mechanisms to Protect the Interests of Vulnerable Sections

1. Constitution: The Constitution of India contains various provisions which provides for several rights and safeguards for the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes .While most of these provisions are common to both ,SC and the ST. There are various provisions for safeguarding the interests of vulnerable sections. The constitutional rights of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes include right to equality, right to freedom, and right against exploitation. Right to Equality is vital in a society of India. The purpose of this right is to establish the rule of law where all the citizens should be treated equal before the law. It has five provisions (Articles 14-18) to provide for equality before law or for the protection of law to all the persons in India and also to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Another constitutional right is right to freedom which is intense desire of every living being. This Right is stipulated under Articles 19-22. The following are categories of Rights to Freedom:

  1. Freedom of speech and expression.
  2. Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms.
  3. Freedom to form Associations and Union.
  4. Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  5. Freedom to reside and settle in any part of India.
  6. Freedom to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

The Constitution makes provisions against exploitation. The inhabitants have been guaranteed the right against exploitation through Articles 23 and 24 of the Constitution.

2. Legislature: Union and State levels: Various bills for vulnerable sections.

3. Executive: Various Ministries under Central and State Governments.

4. Judiciary: For delivering social justice.

5. Decentralized Administration (extending to Panchayati Raj Level to reach vulnerable sections).

6. National and State commissions for vulnerable sections (Like National Commission for Women).
There are administrative mechanisms mentioned as under:

  1. Reservation.
  2. Subsidy.
  3. PDS.
  4. Scholarships.
  5. Centrally Sponsored Schemes.

Laws for the development and betterment of vulnerable sections:
Laws about vulnerable sections can be seen in two dimensions.

  1. Constitutional
  2. Statutory
  3. Constitutional Provisions for Vulnerable Sections
There are certain constitutional provisions which cover all vulnerable sections (common to all). Also, there are provisions which deals only with specific sections.

Constitutional Provisions for the vulnerable section of SC/ST/OBC and minorities:

Art. 15(4) : Clause 4 of article 15 is the fountain head of all provisions regarding compensatory discrimination for SCs/STs. This clause was added in the first amendment to the constitution in 1951 after the SC judgement in the case of Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras. It states thus, "Nothing in this article or in article 29(2) shall prevent the state from making any provisions for the advancement of any socially and economically backward classes of citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes." This clause started the era of reservations in India.

In the case of Balaji vs State of Mysore, the SC held that reservation cannot be more than 50%. Further, that Art. 15(4) talks about backward classes and not backward castes thus caste is not the only criterion for backwardness and other criteria must also be considered.

Finally, in the case of Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, SC upheld the decision given under Balaji vs State of Mysore that reservation should not exceed 50% except only in special circumstances. It further held that it is valid to sub-categorize the reservation between backward and more backward classes. However, total should still not exceed 50%. It also held that the carry forward rule is valid as long as reservation does not exceed 50%.

Art. 15 (5) : This clause was added in 93rd amendment in 2005 and allows the state to make special provisions for backward classes or SCs or STs for admissions in private educational institutions, aided or unaided.

Art. 16(4): This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services.

Art. 16 (4A): This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs.

Art. 16(4B): This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50% reservation.

Art. 17: This eradicates untouchability and its practice in any form. Although the term untouchability has not been demarcated in the constitution or in any act but its meaning is to be understood not in a literal sense but in the context of Indian society. Due to the varna system, some people were relegated to do menial jobs such as cleaning toilets. Such people were not to be touched and it was considered a sin to even touch their shadow. They were not even allowed to enter public places such as temples and shops.

The constitution struggles to remove this abhorring practice by not only making the provision a fundamental right but also allows punishment to whoever practices or abets it in any form. Towards this end, Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 was enacted. It has implemented several measures to eradicate this evil from the society. It stipulates up to 6 months imprisonment or Rs.500 fine or both. It impresses upon the public servant to investigate fully any complaint in this matter and failing to do so will amount to abetting this crime. In the case of State of Kar. vs Appa Balu Ingle, SC upheld the conviction for preventing a lower caste person from filling water from a bore well.

In Asiad Projects Workers case, SC has held that right under Art 17 is available against private individuals as well and it is the duty of the state to ensure that this right is not violated.

Art. 19(5): It allows the state to impose restriction on freedom of movement or of residence in the benefit of Scheduled Tribes.

Art. 40: Provides reservation in 1/3 seats in Panchayats to SC/ST.

Art. 46: Enjoins the states to promote with care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, especially SC and STs.

Art. 164: Appoint special minister for tribal welfare in the states of MP, Bihar, and Orrisa.

Art. 275: Allows special grant in aids to states for tribal welfare.

Art. 330/332: Allows reservation of seats for SC/ST in the parliament as well as in state legislatures.

Art. 335: Allows relaxation in qualifying marks for admission in educational institutes or promotions for SCs/STs.

In the case of State of MP vs Nivedita Jain, SC held that complete relaxation of qualifying marks for SCs/STs in Pre-Medical Examinations for admission to medical colleges is valid.

Art. 338/338A/339: Establishes a National Commission of SCs and STs. Art. 339 allows the central govt. to direct states to implement and execute plans for the betterment of SC/STs.

Art. 340: Permits the president to appoint a commission to investigate the condition of socially and economically backward classes and table the report in the parliament.

Lawful Provisions for Women

There are numerous legal provisions to enhance the status of women which is more susceptible group in Indian society.

Art. 15(3): It permits the state to make special provisions for women and children. Several acts such as Dowry Prevention Act have been passed including the most recent one of Protection of women from domestic violence Act 2005.

Art. 23: Under the fundamental right against exploitation, flesh trade has been banned.

Art. 39: Guarantees equal pay to women for equal work. In the case of Randhir Singh vs Union of India, SC held that the concept of equal pay for equal work is indeed a constitutional goal and is capable of being enforced through constitutional remedies under Art. 32.

Art. 40: Provides 1/3 reservation in panchayat.

Art. 42: Offers free pregnancy care and delivery.

Art. 44: It compels the state to implement unchanging civil code, which will help progress the condition of women across all religions. It has, however, not been implemented due to politics. In the case of Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, SC has held that in Indian Republic there is to be only one nation i.e. Indian nation and no community could claim to be a separate entity on the basis of religion. There is a plan to provide reservation to women in parliament as well.

Constitutional Provisions for Children

Art. 19 A: Education up to 14 yrs has been made a fundamental right. Thus, the state is required to provide school education to children.

In the case of Unni Krishnan vs State of AP, SC held that right to education for children between 6 to 14 yrs of age is a fundamental right as it flows from Right to Life. After this decision, education was made a fundamental right explicitly through 86th amendment in 2002.

Art. 24: Children have a fundamental right against exploitation and it is prohibited to employ children below 14 yrs of age in factories and any hazardous processes. Recently the list of hazardous processes has been updated to include domestic, hotel, and restaurant work.

Several PILs have been filed in the benefit of children. For example, MC Mehta vs State of TN, SC has held that children cannot be employed in match factories or which are directly connected with the process as it is hazardous for the children.

In the case of Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union of India, J Bhagvati has laid down guidelines for adoption of Indian children by foreigners.

Art. 45: Urges the state to provide early childhood care and education for children up to 6 yrs of age.

Age, and high levels of economic necessity and/or disability combine to create high levels of vulnerability to long-lasting poverty. While old age pension schemes are in place neither the small amounts made available nor the hassle of accessing them make this a solution to the problem of chronic poverty among the elderly. With the high occurrence of chronic ailments and health care needs of the elderly, declining family size, migration and breakdown of traditional family structures that provided support, this group of the population is awfully vulnerable to poverty.

Constitutional Provisions for Aged

In Constitution of India, entry 24 in list III of Schedule IV deals with the "Welfare of Labour, including conditions of work, provident funds, liability for workmen's compensations, invalidity and Old age pension and maternity benefits.

Further, Item No. 9 of the State List and Item No. 20, 23 and 24 of the Concurrent List relates to old age pension, social security and social insurance, and economic and social planning.

Article 41 of the Directive Principle of the State Policy has particular relevance to Old Age Social Security. According to this Article, "the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of undeserved want."

Constitutional Provisions for Socially & Educationally Backward Classes (OBCs)

The constitution does not describe the term backward classes. It is up to the centre and the states to postulate the classes that belong to this group. However, it is understood that classes that are not represented adequately in the services of the state can be termed backward classes. Further, the President can, under Art. 340, can constitute a commission to investigate the condition of socially and educationally backward classes. Based on this report, the president may specify the backward classes. Commission for Enquiring into Conditions of Backward Classes

Article 340: Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes.

Safeguards relating to Educational & Public Employment

Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Article 16: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.

Art. 15 (4): “Nothing in this article or in article 29(2) shall prevent the state from making any provisions for the advancement of any socially and economically backward classes of citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.” This clause started the era of reservations in India. You may please note that Art. 15(4) talks about backward classes and not backward castes thus caste is not the only criterion for backwardness and other criteria must also be considered.

Art. 15 (5): This clause was added in 93rd amendment in 2005 and allows the state to make special provisions for backward classes or SCs or STs for admissions in private educational institutions, aided or unaided.

Art. 16(4): This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services.

Art. 16 (4A): This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs.

Art. 16(4B): This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50% reservation.

Constitutional Provisions relevant to Social Justice & Empowerment as a whole

Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.

Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

Article 37: Application of the principles contained in this Part (DPSP).

Article 38: State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people.

Article 39: Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State.

Article 39A: Equal justice and free legal aid.

Article 46: Promotion of Educational and Economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.

Definition and Specification of SCs

Article 341: Scheduled Castes.

Article 366: Definitions.

Social Safeguards

Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability.

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

Political Safeguards

Article 330: Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People.

Article 332: Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

Article 334: Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after sixty years.

Article 243D: Reservation of seats (in Panchayats).

Article 243T: Reservation of seats (in Municipalities).

Agency for Monitoring Safeguards

Article 338: National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

Constitutional Provisions relating to Persons with Disability and the Old

Article 41: Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.

In Constitution of India, entry 24 in list III of Schedule IV deals with the "Welfare of Labour, including conditions of work, provident funds, liability for workmen's compensations, invalidity and Old age pension and maternity benefits. Further, Item No. 9 of the State List and Item No. 20, 23 and 24 of the Concurrent List relates to old age pension, social security and social insurance, and economic and social planning.

Article 41 of the Directive Principle of the State Policy has particular significance to Old Age Social Security. According to this Article, “the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of undeserved want."

Constitutional Provisions relating to Prevention of Substance Abuse:

Article 47: Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.

Some General Provisions

Article 12: Definition [Part III: Fundamental Rights].
Article 36: Definition [Part IV: Directive Principles of State Policy].
Division of Legislative & Executive Powers between the Union & the States
Article 246: Subject-matter of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States.
Article 73: Extent of executive power of the Union.
Article 162: Extent of executive power of the State.
Devolution of Powers and Responsibilities on Panchayat & Municipalities.
Article 243G: Powers, Authority and Responsibilities of Panchayat.
Article 243W: Powers, Authority and Responsibilities of Municipalities, etc.
Seventh Schedule (See Art.246)
Union List Entries 59, 97.
State List Entries 8, 9.
Concurrent List Entries 15, 16, 19, 20, 23.
Eleventh Schedule (See Art.243G)
Entries 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.
Twelfth Schedule (See Art.243W)
Entries 3, 6, 9. 10, 11.

Statutory Provisions for Vulnerable Sections

The Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955: For SC.
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: For SC and ST.
The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993: For Backward Classes.
Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999.
Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992. : For PWD.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007: For Social Defence.
Dowry Prevention Act.
Protection of women from domestic violence Act 2005.

Institutions for the Development of Vulnerable Sections

National Institute of Social Defence.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute of Physically Handicapped, New Delhi.
National Institute for the Orthopedically Handicapped, Kolkata.
National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehradun.
National Institute of Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad.
Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai.
National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack.
National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Chennai.
Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation, Training & Research (SVNIRTAR), Orissa.
The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre, New Delhi.
The National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation.
The National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation.
The National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation.
The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation.
Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation, Kanpur.
Dr. Ambedkar Foundation.
Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation
Bodies for the development of vulnerable sections
National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
National Commission for Backward Classes.
National Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes – NCST.
Statutory Bodies for vulnerable sections.
The Rehabilitation Council of India.
The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.
The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
National Commission for Women, New Delhi, India.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, India.