Constitution (Scheduled Castes)

Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950

On the Presidential Order of 1950. The Indian constitution on the basis of its article 341(1) empowered the President of India to specify the castes, tribes and groups which can be considered as the Scheduled Castes to become the beneficiaries of the compensatory discrimination (affirmative action). Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the First President promulgated an order known as the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

SC/ST or Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are communities that are accorded special status by the Constitution of India. These communities were considered ‘outcastes’ and were excluded from the Chaturvarna system that was the social superstructure of Hindu society in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. These castes and tribes have traditionally been relegated to the most menial labour with no possibility of upward mobility, and are subject to extensive social disadvantage and discrimination, in comparison to the wider community. The Scheduled Caste people are also known as Dalits; Scheduled Tribe people are also referred to as Adivasis. SC/ST make up upwards of 25% of India’s population, over 250 million people.


The root for the word “Dalit” is found both in Hebrew and in Sanskrit. It refers to people who are socially, religiously, economically and politically oppressed, deprived and exploited in India. The word “Dalit” is often used to describe a person who comes from any lower caste, even though technically authentic Dalits are kept outside the caste system as unworthy to enter the social and religious life of society. They are generally considered to be polluted socially, poor economically and powerless politically. They are not allowed to touch caste Hindus and are therefore treated as “untouchables”. Dalits are found spread throughout the nation of India, South Asia, and among the Indian diaspora around the world.


Reservation, in context to the Dalit issue, are compensatory discrimination (affirmative action) rights granted by Article 340 of the Constitution of India in 1950 to the disadvantaged castes or OBC’s of India

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is entrusted with the welfare, social justice & empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalised section of the society viz, Scheduled Caste, Backward Classes, Persons with Disabilities, Aged Persons, and victims of Drug Abuse etc.

Basic objective of the policies, programmes, law and institution of the Indian welfare system is to bring the target groups into the main stream of development by making them self-reliant

Subjects allocated to the Ministry

  • Social Welfare: Social Welfare Planning, Project formulation, research, evaluation, statistics and training
  • Conventions with other countries in matters relating to social defence and references from United Nations Organisation relating to prevention of crime and treatment of offenders.
  • Institutional and non-institutional services for the care and development of children in need including orphans and orphanages.
  • Education, training, rehabilitation and welfare of the physically and mentally handicapped
  • National Institute for the Physically Handicapped and Mentally Retarded
  • Rehabilitation of the persons with disabilities and rehabilitation of the mentally ill.
  • National Centre for the Blind including the Central Braille Press, Dehra Dun, Training Centre for the Adult Deaf, and School for the partially deaf children, Hyderabad; Model School for Mentally Retarded Children, New Delhi and other national institutes.
  • Social and Moral Hygiene Programme
  • Beggary
  • Research, evaluation, training, exchange of information and technical guidance on all social defense matters.
  • All matters relating to alcoholism and substance (drug) abuse and rehabilitation of addicts/families
  • Promotion of efforts including voluntary efforts to ensure the well being of the older persons.
  • All matters relating to prohibition.
  • Educational and social welfare aspects of drug addiction
  • Charitable and religious endowments pertaining to subjects allocated to this Ministry
  • Promotion and development of voluntary effort on subjects allocated to this Department
  • National Institute of Social Defense
  • National Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi
  • National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped, Kolkata
  • National Institute of Rehabilitation, Training and Research, Cuttack
  • National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad
  • Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai
  • National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Dehradun
  • National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, Faridabad
  • Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India, Kanpur
  • The Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 (34 of 1992) and Rehabilitation Council constituted thereunder
  • The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (01 of 1996)
  • The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy
  • Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 (44 of 1999)
  • Chief Commissioner for Disabilities
  • Scheduled Castes and other Backward Classes including scholarships to students belonging to such Castes and Classes
  • National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  • Development of Scheduled Castes and other Backward Classes

Note:- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will be the nodal Ministry for overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes of development of Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes. In regard to sectoral programmes and schemes of development pertaining to these communities, policy, planning, monitoring, evaluation etc as also their coordination will be the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. Each Central Ministry and Department will be the nodal Ministry or Department concerning its sector.

  • Reports of the Commission to Investigate into the conditions of Backward Classes
  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and all matters pertaining thereto
  • Implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1995, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, excluding the administration of criminal justice in regard to offences in so far as they relate to Scheduled Castes

National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights

The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) is part of a wider struggle to abolish “untouchability“ and to “cast out caste“. “Untouchability” and caste discrimination continue to be a brutal reality for more than 160 million Dalits living in India today, despite the fact that more than half a century has passed since India was born as a “democratic” and independent.


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