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Constitutional Provisions for SC & ST

Constitutional Provisions

The constitutional provisions for SC and ST are given below:

The Indian society is divided into four varnas, often referred as “Jatis or Casts”. At the lowest rung of the social hierarchy are ‘Sudras’ which has been designated as ‘Harijans’ by Gandhi and as ‘Scheduled Cast’ by the constitutions. These casts are called Scheduled Casts as these are included in the list or schedule prepared by the government. There are certain communities which have their own distinct culture and religion and are executed from the traditional social structure. These communities are called Scheduled Tribes in the Constitutions. As per the constitutional provisions (Article 341), the President of India shall prepare the list of such castes and tribes for the first time, in consultation with Governors of States. Parliament has been authorised to make subsequent modifications in such lists as and when required. It means the list of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will not be same for all states but differ from state to state depending upon social and educational backwardness of such castes and communities. The Scheduled Cast order, 1950, issued by the Government of India states and certain castes belonging to only Hindu and Sikh religion are designated as Scheduled Casts. Thus, there are no Scheduled Casts outside these two religions. The Supreme Court of India in its verdicts in two cases – S. B. S. K. Federation (Railway) Vs. Union of India and State Bank of India, Kerala Vs. N. M. Thomas upheld that the term ‘Scheduled Casts’ does not mean some specific caste. The court, in tow other cases – Inder Prakash Vs. Dy. Commissioner, Delhi and Dadaji Vs. Sukhdev Babu declared that the authority to modify the list of Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes lies with Parliament and the court shall not consider the claims of any cast and community to be included in such lists.

Read Also: Ambedkar : The Crusader Against Caste System

The following are the measures prescribed in the Constitutional provisions for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:

  1. According to the Article 15, the state should not discriminate against any citizen only on the ground of caste, creed, etc. More positively, Article 15(4) further states that the state may (in spite of right to equality) make special provisions for the welfare of socially and educationally backward classes. Thus, if the State takes any measures in favour of these castes and communities if would not be challenged on the ground of right to equality.
  2. According to provisions of Article 19, the state can impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of movement and residence of people, in the interest of Scheduled Tribes.
  3. Article 46 of Constitutional provisions directs the State to protect the educational interests of the weaker section of society especially the Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes.
  4. According to the provisions of Article 330, 332 and 334, the seats are reserved in the Parliament and State Legislatures in favour of the Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their number in the population.
  5. Article 335 provides that the State shall consider the claim of members of SC/ST for making the reservation  in services, keeping in mind the efficiency of the administration.
  6. The Article 338 of the constitutional provision (as amended in 1990 by 65th Amendment) provides for the establishment of National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which is assigned such duties as to investigate and monitor all matters related to the safeguards provided for the SC/ST in the constitution, to advice on the planning process of the development of SC/ST and to recommend suitable measures for the effective implementation of these safeguards and for the protection , welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  7. As per the provisions of Article 339, the President is authorised to appoint a Commission after 10 years of the commencement of the Constitution to report on the administration of Scheduled Area and the welfare of Scheduled Castes.
    The Government of India is also empowered to issue suitable directions to State for the welfare of Scheduled Area and Scheduled Tribes.
  8. Article 275(1) of the Constitution makes provision that the Union of India shall make grants to States for implementing welfare schemes in Scheduled Areas and for Scheduled Tribes.
  9. The Fifth and the Sixth Schedules of the constitution (with reference to article 244) make special provisions for the administration and welfare of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.
  10. As per the provision of the Constitution, there shall be a separate Ministry in few states viz Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa etc. which will be charged with the responsibility for the welfare of Scheduled castes in the States.
  11. The 85th amendment of the Constitution restores reservation in promotion in government jobs to the member of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Also, Read:

Caste System of India & Anti-caste and untouchability movements

The caste system in India