Constitutional Provisions for Women
There are numerous legal provisions to enhance the status of women which is a 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 the Union of India, SC has held that in the 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 the 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, in MC Mehta vs the 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 the Union of India, Justice 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.”