Article 46 of Indian Constitution with Explanation and Case Study

What is Article 46 of Indian Constitution?

Article 46 enjoins the state to promote with special care the education and economic interest of the weaker section of the people, and in particular of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. and to protect them from social injustice and of all form of exploitation.

Article 46 of Indian Constitution

Article 46 -Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections 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.

Article 46 Case Study and Explanation

In State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan”, the Supreme Court refused to let the fundamental right declared in Article 29(2) to be whittled down by this article.

In that case, although the object of the impugned” communal order” of the Madras government, which allocated seats to different communities in medical and engineering colleges, was to advance the interest of educationally backward classes of citizens the Supreme Court held the order void for violating the fundamental right under Article 29(2).

The argument that the object of the communal order was the promotion of the cause of backward classes in furtherance of the directive contained in Article 46 of Indian Constitution and therefore, could not be violative of Article 29(2), was rejected by the Court, establishing the supremacy of the fundamental rights over the directive principles of state policy.

This situation, as we have already noted, was changed by the Constitution (1stAmendment) Act, 1951 which introduced clause (4) in Article 15.

But in spite of this amendment, in MR. Balaji v. State of Mysore“, the Supreme Court emphasised the need of balancing the interests of the sections of the people covered by Article 46 and the rest of the society.

It is in view of the greater importance attached to the directive principles by the 42nd Amendment and its recognition in the Fundamental Rights case that the Supreme Court has conceded a liberal implementation of Article 46 vis-é-vis Articles 15 and Article 16, particularly in respect of special provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.“

The Constitution does not define ”the weaker sections of the people”. Attempts to define that expression were given up in the Constituent Assembly as well as in subsequent deliberations and forums.

In the context of Section 21, Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 which uses the expression ”the weaker sections of the society”, the Supreme Court, without.being exhaustive, held that a ”means test” could be adopted for the purpose of identifying such sections and in the contemporary economic condition persons drawing an income upto Rs.18,000 per annum could be considered weaker sections of the society for the purpose of housing schemes in urban Maharashtra.

In Indra Sawhney v. Union of India88 (Mandal Commission case, the court has observed that the expression, ”weaker sections of the people” is wider than the expression ”backward class of citizens” or SEBCs or SCs and STs. It connotes all sections of the society who are rendered weak due to various causes including poverty and natural and physical handicaps.

The court has also read the right to development in this article read with Articles 21, 38 and 39.