old man, old, man

Constitutionalization of Socio – Economic Rights


Survival is the only most important thing which really matter to any human being we all are fighting, doing hard work, making battle with the society or sometimes with our own people all this things, that we are doing is just for the sake of survival. We all are well aware about the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the five stages 1. Physiological needs 2. Safety needs 3. Love and belonging need 4. Esteem needs and 5. Self – actualization need. The whole universe is depend on these needs and when we failed to attain this needs or someone breach this need so we required some power or any authority which can help us in attaining that needs we can say that we required some rules, duties, punishments, or rights so that we can help that particular person or a community to achieve their needs, and for the purpose of that we need some factor which can lead the human need as a legal rights. The main agenda behind this is to maintain the equality, human dignity, freedom specially when we are living in a democratic country. The concept of human dignity, equality and legal rights was not derived by any individual this was raised with the help of many voices, jurist like Hart, John Stuart and John Rawls recognize this concept of freedom, equality they have a very strong opinion that human should enjoy their freedom in correct manner. The term freedom refers to define the idea of freedom that is not limited to civil and political rights but also bears in mind the capability of right-bearing individuals. When an individual is deprived of socio-economic rights, he is also deprived of the capacity to enjoy his freedom in a meaningful manner. 

What is Socio Economic Right?

Human rights are divided into three generations according to international law studies. The first generation is known as civil and political law, the second is economic, social and cultural rights, and the third is the right of individuals to self-determination and the rights of minorities. In the 18th century in Bavaria and Prussia, the state was seen as an “ agent of social happiness ” responsible for caring for the needy and working for those who did not have the means and opportunities to support themselves, similar to the French constitution of 1793 they include the obligation of the state to provide public assistance to those in need. In the 19th century, Bismarck introduced social legislation that covered income insurance in the event of unemployment, injury, etc. The Weimar Constitution of 1919 recognized the importance of these rights, in 1919 the establishment of the International Labor Organization And this is how the second generation of law was introduced. Second generation rights constituted claims to the state to comply with obligation rather than refrain from acting, which is the core of the prevailing wisdom about negative freedoms. It was after World War II that several countries adopted or amended their constitution to include social and economic rights. The development of human rights jurisprudence initially promoted by the United Nations has given a great impetus to the expansion of these rights into national and international texts.
The broader recognition of social and economic rights was combined with the idea that these rights were part of the concept of citizenship. T.H. Marshall in an influential book suggested on this topic that include social rights included. everything ranges from the right to a minimum of well-being and economic security to the right to fully share the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the rules prevailing in society. The institutions most closely related to it are the education system and social services.es.

Quincy Wright tried as early as 1947 to distinguish between the two generations of rights when he wrote: Individual rights are mainly related to the negative duties of the state and social rights are mainly related to the positive duties of the state. Individual rights require the state to refrain from interfering with the free exercise of its abilities by the individual, while social rights require the state to interfere in many things the individual would like to do.….

In 1966, the Human Rights Commission, stemming from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, had developed two covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). of which entered into force on January 3, 1976. Initially, the ICESCR lacked a grievance mechanism, but in 1987 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had begun to develop the case law through your general comments and specific status reports.
Further, important developments took place within national constitutional law. In 1954 in Brown v Board of Education, The Supreme Court of the United States, in one of its most publicized and controversial decisions when it was pronounced, overturned the concept of separate but equal and thus paved the way for non-discriminatory access to education. In 1972, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that the right to free choice of employment or choosing what employment they want to practice, required universities to demonstrate that they had effectively used all available resources to maximize the number of university places educational institution available to students. During the 1970s, the Supreme Court of India began to develop a number of social rights, from the right to life read along with the guiding principles of state policy which were contained in the Constitution of India, its ruling in Sunil Batra v. Delhi. . Administration. (https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r28784.pdf)

It must be noted that the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
does not expressly classify any rights as social or economic
or cultural

It must be noted that the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
does not expressly classify any rights as social or economic
or cultural

It must be noted that International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR) particularly does not expressly classify or provide any justification on any rights based on social or economic or cultural.

Indian Constitution on socio economic rights

Part III of the Indian Constitution deals with fundamental rights and depends primarily on the civil and political rights of an individual, while Part IV of the Indian Constitution speaks about the guiding principles of state policy, which is primarily concerned with social and economic rights. The explanation of civil and political rights in Part III and socio-economic rights in Part IV is comparable to that of the ICCPR and ICESCR, respectively. The fundamental rights mentioned in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are found in Part IV of the Indian Constitution, which includes provisions concerning basic needs, workers’ rights and social justice. Part IV of the Indian Constitution specifies some other rights in the Indian context as well, such as the Uniform Civil Code, ARTICLE 44 and organization of village panchayat ARTICLE 46 etc.

Part IV directive principles of state policy (DPSP): mainly economic and social rights in the constitution of India are set out in this part. These include-

  • Equal right of citizen to an adequate means of livelihood {Article 39(a)}.
  • Equal pay for equal work for both men and women {Article 39 (d)}.
  • The right to work, education and public assistance in certain cases including unemployment, old age, sickness, disablement, and other cases of undeserved want (Article 41).
  • Just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief (Article 42).
  • Living wage, etc. for workers (Article 43).
  • Raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of the people (Article 47).
  • Improvement of public health (Article 47).

In wider context, social welfare involved in the text mostly in national constitution and their annexation is not a recent phenomenon but social welfare rights are rarely enforced by courts. Indeed constitutional scholars have largely contended that social rights are non – justiciable.
In case of Sachidanand Pandey v. state of West Bengal It has been noted that when the court is asked to implement the DPSP, that court should not shrug its shoulders and say that priorities are a matter of politics and therefore a matter of political decision-making authority. The least the court can do is to examine whether or not appropriate considerations are made and irrelevance excluded. In appropriate cases, the court may go further, but how much more should depend on the circumstances of the case. The court can always give the necessary instructions.
It has been observed that while interpreting any constitutional provision, the directive principles were to be viewed as the ‘book of interpretation’ and they plays a vital role, also the court is required to interpret the fundamental rights in light of the directive principles. Key argument which given by court on the fundamental nature of social and economic rights are-

socio economic rights are part of right to life and dignity. Socio economic rights are constitutional rights. Socio economic rights are deeply interconnected to fundamental rights under part III. India is obliged to under international human right laws to enforce socio-economicrights. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341178915_Economic_and_Social_Rights_under_the_Indian_Constitution)

Part III of Indian constitution article 21 the followings right have been included as a facet of the right to life and human dignity, such followings rights are-

  • Livelihood
  • Education
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clean drinking water

Some wide interpretation is also given by the court in case of fundamental right include some socio – economic rights example-

  • Equal pay for equal work Grih Kalyan workers union v union of India.
  • Right to be considered for employment Anuj Garg other v. hotel association of India and others.
  • Forced labour people union democratic rights v. union of India in this case court held to include cases where person compelled to work for remuneration lower than statutory minimum wages.

The Constitution of India, rests firmly on the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. It denotes the seriousness of the issue and respect for human dignity, an absolute commitment to equality and non-discrimination, and an over-riding concern for the poorest and raise voice for those who are weakest in society. The Constitution now makes it mandatory to protect and promote freedoms, of an individual and to ensure every citizen has a decent standard of living.


Social rights are rights that individuals have the right to receive as a matter of public morality. Social rights are recognized mainly by international law. Everyone wants to live their life with dignity, equality and freedom and no one should stop them because they do not ask for anything that is not good or against the law, each person must live their life according to their own desire and part II and part III of India. The constitution helps the individual to do this The Indian constitution does not expressly establish socio-economic rights as fundamental rights, but they are part of the guiding principles of state policy which uses the expression law and whose conclusion means that they are important and binding for the state is taken into account when formulating laws for the country. Articles like 21, 39 (a), 41, 45 and 37 are some examples of this type of rights. The synthesis and integration of fundamental rights with the guiding principles in the judicial process of constitutionalization of social and economic rights has been crucial in accelerating the pace of implementation of the guiding principles, not only as a means of making fundamental rights effective, but also as a a source of law. for a welfare state. This approach has redirected basic human needs towards actionable rights that can be enforced in court.


Simran Thakur, UPES ( University of Petroleum and Energy Studies ), Dehradun