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LAW AND POVERTY

LAW AND POVERTY

An essential characteristic of a just society is one in which the satisfaction of human needs is widely accepted. In India, the problem of poverty has been among the most concerning issues before and even after Independence. Even after 75 years of Independence, we are grappling with the problem of poverty. According to the World Bank, if a person is living on $1.90 a day or less, then he/she is living in extreme poverty, and currently, 767 million people of the world fall under that category. According to the last released report of the Tendulkar Committee, in 2011, 268 million people in India were surviving on less than $1.90 a day around 6% of the population i.e., (97.7 million) in India is under extreme poverty. According to the 2020 report of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, India stands at 62nd among 107 countries.  

As per a 2011 study, 62% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. In fact, the largest slum in Asia, Dharavi is in Mumbai. Dharavi which occupied about 175 hectares of land has a population of 0.35 million.

Under these circumstances, the concept of law and poverty becomes an important subject. At this point in time, it becomes relevant to study the issue of poverty from the perspective of law. We must be aware of the concerned legislations, rights, and duties that are there to tackle poverty in India. We must seek to examine the relationship between legal institutions and poverty, to what extent the former acts as a critical tool for empowerment and emancipation of poverty.

The term poor or poverty is not defined in the Indian Constitution, but the same can be traced in different Articles of the constitution. The framers of the constitution were concerned about the marginalized section of the society and thus provisions for the upliftment of such sections were incorporated. 

Laws related to poverty alleviation –

Article 21 includes the right to life and personal liberty, this article has a wide ambit and includes the right to live a decent life with dignity. It is a human right and also includes the right to livelihood as held by the SC in Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar Raghavendranath Nadkarni.

Directive Principles of state policies enumerates many provisions for the welfare of the people. The state must take up those provisions seriously and implement them for the upliftment of those who are in need.  The Legal Service Authority Act, 1987 gave statutory effect to Article 39A provides for equal justice and free legal aid. Sheela Barsevs. The state of Maharastra.

Article 15 and 16 which is enabling provisions to grant individual reservations for people belonging to socially and educationally backward classes. M.R Balaji v. state of Madras.

The National Commission to Review the working of the constitution proposed constitutional obligation on the state to provide to the citizens ‘Rural Wage Labour’ as a fundamental right and proposed the introduction of a new Article 21B for this purpose.

Legislations- 

  • National Foods Security Act, 2013
  • Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 
  • National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 
  • Scheduled Tribes  and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
  • The Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971 (“the Slum Act”).

Landmark Judgments-

  • Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar Raghavendranath Nadkarni, 1959 (1) SCR Supp 528.
  • Sheela Barsevs. The state of Maharastra, AIR 1983 SC 378
  • M.R Balaji v. State of Mysore, AIR 1963 SC 469
  • Olga Tellis and Ors. v. Bombay Municipal Corporation and Ors, (1985) 3 SCC 545
  • Tuglakabad Jhuggi Jhompri v. Union Of India And Others AIR 1996 Delhi 370

GOVERNMENT SCHEMES FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION

Pradhan Mantri SVANidhi SchemeSolar Charkha MissionIntegrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)
Pradhan Mantri Awas YojanaMahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (MGNREGA)National Food Security Act, 2013
National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)DAY-NULM| National Urban Livelihood MissionPradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)
PMKVY – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas YojanaSansad Adarsh Gram Yojana – SAGYEconomic Empowerment of Weaker Sections
Prime Minister Jeevan Jyoti Bima YojanaPradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima YojanaPradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY
Prime Minister Ujjwala PlanPM Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY)National Nutrition Mission – Poshan Abhiyan 
PradhanMantri ShramYogi Maan-DhanNational Pension SchemeNai Roshni Scheme

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