The Social Security Charter under the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution (Legal Provisions)


(1) Participation of workers in management of Industries:

Article 43-A provides that the State shall take steps by suitable legislation or in any other way, to secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings, establishments or other organisations engaged in any industry.

(2) Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases:

According to Article 41, 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 cases of public employment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

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(3) Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief:

Article 42 provides that the State shall make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

(4) Living wages for workers:

Article 43 requires the State to Endeavour to secure by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural. Industrial or otherwise, work a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall Endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis In rural areas.

Under Article 43, the concept of “living wage” has been discussed and not the concept of “minimum wage”. The “living wage” includes in addition to the bare necessities of life, such as, food, clothes, shelter and the provisions of education for the children, etc. The concept of living wage is not a static concept. It is expanding in nature with the development and growth of the national economy of the country.

(5) Provision of free and compulsory education of children:

Article 45 provides that the State shall Endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

In a landmark Judgment in Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993) 1 S.C.C. 645, the Supreme Court has held that the “Right to Education unto the age of 14 years, is a fundamental right within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution but thereafter the obligation of the State to provide education is subject- to the limits of its economic capacity. The right to education flows directly from “right to life”, the Supreme Court observed.

Through the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2001, a new article for Article 45 has been enacted, which provides, “The State shall Endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.” This has been necessitated as a result of making the right to education of children unto 14 years of age as a fundamental right.

(6) Duty of the State to raise level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health:

Article 47 makes provision that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the Improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall Endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of Intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.

(7) Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections:

Article 46 provides that the State shall 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 shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

(8) Equal justice and free legal aid:

Article 39-A provides that -the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

This article was added to the Constitution through Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, pursuant to the new policy of the Government to give legal aid to economically backward classes of people. In a number of cases, the Supreme Court has held “legal aid” and “speedy trial” as fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In State of Maharashtra vs. Manubhai Bagaji Vashi, (1995) 5 S.C.C. 730, the Supreme Court has held that Article 21 read with Article 39-A, casts a duty on the State to afford grants-in-aid to recognise private law colleges, similar to other faculties, which qualify for receipt of the grant.

This duty cast on the State cannot be whittled down either by pleading paucity of funds, or otherwise, the right to free legal aid and speedy trial are guaranteed fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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