Disadvantaged groups is a very important section in society. One or the other group remains in news due to tye welfare policies of government and at times due to controversies surrounding the policies. The article below and the issue in it is more likely to appear in Prelims which may be related to tye procedure of recognizing an SC
The Centre has recently agreed with the Opposition’s stand that the Uttar Pradesh government’s recent order that brought 17 OBC communities under Scheduled Castes (SC) is unconstitutional and said Parliament can make changes to it
Placing in syllabus
Laws for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections of the society
- Procedure of determining a Scheduled caste(SC)
- Indian law and constitutional provisions for upliftment of SCs
- Schemes for SCs
Issue in Uttar Pradesh
India is a pluralistic society which has all the major religions of the world. The hierarchical social order was created over the centuries with a view to preserve the monopoly of social status, property and education by the high caste Hindus. Consequent upon the caste system, the property, education, freedom, social equality, economic opportunity and political power were denied to the weaker sections of Indian society. The caste system bestowed hierarchical graded privileges on some sections of the population and inflicted a series of disabilities on others which continued from generation to generation.
India being the second largest country of the world has roughly 25 per cent of its total population scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. They are kept away from the mainstream of all social, cultural, religious, educational, economic practices of society for centuries together. They were denied the basic rights of human living. This was the vulnerable group who was living on the bottom line of society. India attained freedom in August, 1947 and adopted its own “Constitution of India” for its citizens. Constitution of India has protected the rights of these sections of citizens by awarding certain privileges enshrined in the constitution
Procedure of determining a Scheduled caste(SC)
On the basis of the 1931 census that the British government had conducted, the Government of India 1935 Act was promulgated. The reservation for the “Depressed Classes” was incorporated into the act, which came into force in 1937. This “Depressed class” later came to known as the Scheduled Caste. After India got its independence, the Constitution continued the affirmative action for the ‘depressed class’ which were now termed as ‘Scheduled Caste’ and ‘Scheduled Tribe’.
According to the Constitution of India, under article 341(1), the President of India, after consultation with the Governor, may specify, “the castes, races, tribes or parts of groups within castes or races, which shall be deemed to be Scheduled Castes”. Accordingly, the President has notified the Scheduled Castes in the order called ‘Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order-1950’ and the ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes List (Modification) Order-1956. However, under article 341(2), the Parliament of India by law can include or exclude the above-mentioned groups from the list of the Scheduled Castes.
Part 3 of the Presidential order of 1950 states that “no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu [the Sikh or the Buddhist] religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.” This clearly lays down a religious barrier which states that any person who is not a Hindu, Buddhist or a Sikh, will not be entitled to reservation on the basis of being a Scheduled Caste.
Indian Law provisions
- Caste Disabilities Removal Act,1950
- Protection of Civil Rights Act,1955
- The Bonded Labour System (Abolition)Act, 1976
- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Protection of Human Rights Act,1993
- The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013
- Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015
The above provisions ensure that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes be treated equally and not be discriminated. It ensures that the state provides for measures to improve Socio-Economic conditions of SC/STs so that they achieve a minimum standard of living.
Constitutional mechanism for upliftment of SC
- Article 17 abolishes Untouchability.
- Article 46 requires the State ‘to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
- Article 335 provides that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.
- Article 15(4) refers to the special provisions for their advancement.
- Article 16(4A) speaks of “reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of SCs/STs.
- Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution respectively provide for reservation of seats in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the legislative assemblies of the States.
- Under Part IX relating to the Panchayats and Part IXA of the Constitution relating to the Municipalities, reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in local bodies has been envisaged and provided.
- Article 338 provides for a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes(NCSC) with duties to investigate and monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for them, to inquire into specific complaints and to participate and advise on the planning process of their socio-economic development etc.
Functions of NCSC
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under this Constitution and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes.
- To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
- To present to the President, annual reports upon the working of those safeguards.
- To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes as the President may specify.
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is the nodal Ministry to oversee the interests of the Scheduled Castes. Various scholarships are provided to the students belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) at both pre-matric and post-matric levels to ensure that education is not denied due to the poor financial condition of their families. Scholarships are also provided to SC students for obtaining higher education in India and abroad, including premier educational institutions.
- National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) Set up under the Ministry, to finance income generating activities of Scheduled Caste beneficiaries living below double the poverty line limits (presently Rs 98,000/- per annum for rural areas and Rs 1,20,000/- per annum for urban areas).
- Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) It is a policy initiative for development of Scheduled Castes in which 100 % assistance is given as an additive to SCSP of the States/ UTs on the basis of certain criteria such as SC population of the States/UTs, relative backwardness of States/UTs, percentage of SC families in the States/ UTs covered by composite economic development programmes in the State Plan to enable them to cross the poverty line, etc.
- Scheme of Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs) The main functions of SCDCs include identification of eligible SC families and motivating them to undertake economic development schemes, sponsoring the schemes to financial institutions for credit support, providing financial assistance in the form of the margin money at a low rate of interest.
- Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes The objective of the fund is to promote entrepreneurship amongst the Scheduled Castes who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies and to provide concessional finance to the scheduled caste entrepreneurs.
- Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) The Centrally Sponsored scheme is being implemented for integrated development of SC majority villages having SC Population concentration > 50%.
- Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana The primary objective of the Scheme is to attract implementing agencies for undertaking hostel construction programme with a view to provide hostel facilities to SC boys and girls studying in middle schools, higher secondary schools, colleges and universities.
- Upgradation of Merit of SC Students The objective of the Scheme is to upgrade the merit of Scheduled Caste students studying in Class IX to XII by providing them with facilities for education in residential /non-residential schools.