Social Justice and Empowerment Resolution

Social Justice and Empowerment Resolution adopted at the 85th Plenary Session of the Indian National Congress on February 25-26, 2023 at Raipur, Chattisgarh

  1. In forging a just nation that provides equitable opportunities to all, the empowerment of Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backwards Castes (OBCs), Minorities and Women has always been an article of faith for the Indian National Congress. The Congress party’s Constitution commits to building an India where there is equality of opportunity. India has demonstrated its commitment towards upliftment and empowerment of the socially weaker sections by enacting and implementing several legislations, schemes and policies for them. To promote people’s political, economic and social rights, the Congress Party ushered in a paradigm shift by enacting a range of rights-based laws that ensured empowerment and social justice.

  2. Indian National Congress took forward the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Babu Jagjivan Ram and Sarojini Naidu. The Congress party has worked to make the ideals of the Constitution of India a reality, making its principles of justice, equality, liberty, and fraternity come alive. This has resulted in the world’s most comprehensive social justice paradigm, building on a plethora of visionary constitutional provisions, policies, and laws.

  3. Unfortunately, over the past nine years, the BJP Government have been undermining these constitutional rights and entitlements. Driven by their ideological imperatives, the RSS-BJP have unleashed deliberate and relentless efforts against the interest of India’s religious minorities, as well as Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and women. Today, each of these sections of society face severe threats to their rights, livelihoods, culture and sense of identity and dignity. This poses a grave threat to the principles of social, economic and political justice espoused by the freedom movement and enshrined in our Constitution.

  4. The rights-based legislations championed by Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh during the UPA government demonstrated the commitment of the Indian National Congress to implementing the Directive Principles of the State Policy enshrined in the Indian Constitution. These landmark laws recognised the economic and social rights of every Indian citizen, and resolve to redress historical injustices. They accorded dignity and strength to a broad spectrum of communities agricultural workers, children forest dwelling communities and scheduled tribes, farmers, students, street vendors, persons with disabilities and Dalits, demonstrating that equality, liberty and fraternity move from rhetorical concepts to practical reality.

  5. The Right to Information Act was a historic Act passed to enable citizens to access government records in a time bound manner.

  6. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has become the largest public works programme in the world. In a departure from previous schemes providing work for relief and social security, the MGNREGA for the first time gave households of rural India the right to employment in their own villages, within 15 days of demanding it.

  7. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act became a historic legislation replacing the colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The law was designed to stop forcible, unjust and arbitrary acquisition of land, and guarantee a fair compensation to all who lost their land and livelihoods due to evictions.

  8. Over 200 million Indians live in and around forests. The Forests Rights Act recognized and vested rights of forest and occupation in forests to Tribals and other traditional forest dwellers. The Act aimed to reverse the historical injustice of alienation forest dwelling communities from their land.

  9. The Persons with Disabilities Act empowered persons with disability to enjoy the right to equality, and life with dignity, and ensured their full and effective participation and inclusion in society.

  10. Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act prohibited the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines. The Bill sought to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.

  11. The Street Vendors Act recognises vending as a legal right to livelihood and aims to protect the rights of vendors as workers. The Act safeguarded them from evictions and harassments and provided a democratic platform for vendors to participate in decisions.

  12. The National Food Security Act guaranteed access to subsidized foodgrains for children and adults through the public distribution system, midday meals, cooked food in anganwadis and maternity entitlements.

  13. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act guaranteed free education to children from the age of 6 to 18 and has led to an unprecedented increase in the enrolment rate of children in the country.

  14. The rights-based laws, particularly the MGNREGA and the NFSA prove to be saviours of the rural poor during COVID and the harsh lockdown that followed. The BJP’s equation of these rights based laws to “freebies” and “revdi” in light of these statistics and the harsh realities of the majority of the poor in the country smacks of indignity and contempt.

  15. The Congress re-commits itself to strongly resist the attacks on India’s welfare and affirmative action architecture by engaging in constructive politics and implementing creative policies, and adopts the following resolution.

  16. The BJP has methodically weakened India’s political, economic and social institutions, which has seriously affected the nation’s interest, particularly that SCs, STs, OBCs, and Minorities. There is therefore an urgent need to create a new institutional architecture that can redress structural fault-lines and problems created in the last nine years. Indian National Congress commits to one such new institution, a ‘National Council for Social Justice’ on the lines of National Development Council, which will not only review the progress and gaps in implementing India’s social justice policies and legislations but also tangibly safeguard, strengthen and defend the rights and entitlements meant for SCs, STs, OBC, and Minorities throughout India. The Council will also undertake surveys across the country to study inequalities and comprehensively map the socio-economic and political status of these sections in India and publish a “State of Social Justice Report”, along the lines of the National Economic Survey, a day before the Budget is presented every year.

  17. Recognizing that there is a need to both restore and scale up policies to empower the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of society, Indian National Congress commits to spearheading a radical new policy package of social justice.

  18. The BJP has consistently refused to conduct the caste census which would be crucial to revising the benchmark for socio-economic and educational backwardness. Indian National Congress commits to conduct a Socio-Economic Caste Census along with the decennial census. The Caste Census shall also enumerate De-notified Tribes and Nomadic Tribes.

  19. Indian National Congress commits to creating a dedicated ministry for the empowerment of the OBCs. The Ministry will focus on expanding educational and employment opportunities of OBCs and provision of civic amenities in their habitations.

  20. National Commission for Minorities plays an important role in protecting the rights and livelihoods of Minorities. Congress party is committed to accord Constitutional status to the National Commission for Minorities to endow the Commission with powers to serve the community better. Congress party commits to implement special welfare scheme for minority welfare based on the recommendations of the Sachar committee. The Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) and the 15-point programme for minorities (as enunciated by Smt. Indira Gandhi, reformulated by Shri Rajiv Gandhi and effectively implemented by Dr. Manmohan Singh) shall be implemented in full. Congress party shall commit to secularism in letter-and-spirit and would be in the forefront to protect the rights of minorities.

  21. Congress is committed to give Constitutional status to National Commission for Women to enhance its effectiveness to empower the women. Congress pledges to expand access to quality education for women, expand residential schools and colleges for girls, provide employable skills for women and introduce special scheme to promote entrepreneurship among women.

  22. The promise of SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, by the BJP has proved beyond doubt that it is nothing but a massive act of deception. Mob lynching particularly against minorities, atrocities against SCs and STs and violence against women have touched record highs in the last nine years. The sense of insecurity and agony among these communities/groups is extremely high because they are being continuously targeted with hate and gruesome violence by the BJP-RSS and their affiliates. The Congress party commits to further strengthen the legal mechanism for ensuring protection of rights of these communities.

  23. Indian National Congress shall be vigilant and strive relentlessly for delivering justice to the victims of atrocities by ensuring the effective implementation of ‘SC and ST (Preventions of Atrocities) Act, 1989’.

  24. To redress the discrimination faced by the students from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities in educational institutions, the Congress Party commits to enact a special Act called the Rohith Vemula Act to protect and safeguard their right to education and dignity.

  25. For the last nine years, the BJP has systematically worked to scuttle reservations and make them irrelevant for government recruitment. Indian National Congress commits to ensure, reservations to SCs and STs are in proportion to their population, by revising the quota in every state once in 10 years and filling up of backlog vacancies in a time bound manner. To ensure diversity in all sectors, the Congress Party is committed to a vision that will secure equal access to jobs in private organized sector for SCs, STs and OBCs.

  26. In order to promote gender parity in the ‘Institutions of Local self-government’, Shri Rajiv Gandhi introduced reservations for women. Taking the agenda of empowerment of women further, Indian National Congress had introduced the legislation to provide for 33% reservation for women in Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. Congress Party shall ensure its passage with appropriate provision for reserved categories within the 33%.

  27. To ensure that the judiciary is reflective of the social diversity of India, the Congress Party shall consider reservations for SCs-STs-OBCs in the higher judiciary. In the same spirit, reforms will be undertaken to create Indian Judicial Service.

  28. 93rd Constitutional Amendment passed by the UPA government provides for reservation for SCs, STs and OBC in private higher educational institutions, including in deemed universities, other than the minority institutions. Congress party will bring in legislation to realise the objective of 93rd Constitutional amendment.

  29. To give an impetus to economic empowerment of SCs and STs, UPA Government introduced reservation in public procurement for MSMEs owned by SCs and STs. But the BJP government deliberately neglected implementation of this policy. In 2021-22, not even 1% of the MSMEs benefited belonged to SCs and STs. The Indian National Congress is committed to effectively implement and expand the scope of the Public Procurement Policy for benefiting MSMEs and public work contractors belonging to SC and ST communities.

  30. The concept of Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) was introduced by Smt. Indira Gandhi in late seventies, as a key policy to give an impetus to the development of SCs and STs. The essential component of the policy is, earmarking a portion of budget in proportion to the population of SCs and STs for investing on such schemes that have potential to bridge the gaps in development between SCs and STs, when compared to others. Congress state governments in undivided state of AP and Karnataka in 2012 and 2013 respectively, have enacted legislation at State level to give legal backing to the policy of SCSP and TSP and demonstrated an effective approach to accelerate the development of SCs and STs.

  31. The Congress commits to national legislation to make ensure that a portion of the Union budget is earmarked in proportion to the population of SCs and STs in the country, to foster sustainable development of SCs and STs and to bring them on par with rest of the society.

  32. The Indian National Congress is committed to promote socio-economic empowerment of OBCs. Congress recognises the need to design and implement programs that address the development needs of OBCs. Congress commits to special budgetary allocation to accelerate the development of OBCs.

  33. Year after year, the BJP Government is reducing the outlays for post matric scholarships, posing serious threat to the educational advancement of SC, ST, OBC and minority students. The Congress is committed to a new paradigm where all poor students will secure post matric Scholarship as a matter of right, and further commits to do away with income ceiling for availing post matric scholarship for poor SC, ST students. Allocations for Rajiv Gandhi Research Fellowship program and assistance to students to study abroad introduced during UPA regime will be substantially enhanced.

  34. Indian National Congress has advocated reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society. But the BJP’s policy on EWS quota has excluded even the poor SCs, STs and OBCs from availing benefits under EWS quota. Congress considers poor belonging to all communities to be economically weaker and therefore poor SC, ST, OBCs cannot be excluded from the EWS quota. Congress party would ensure that economically weaker section category students are given age relaxation on par with the age relaxation given to SCs and STs for entering into government services.

  35. The BJP government’s policies have taken away the rights of Adivasis and other forest dwellers, destroyed many livelihoods and are threatening lakhs of peoples’ rights to their homes and lands. Very little is being done to recognise rights of Tribals and other forest dwellers, as enshrined in Forest Rights Act. The government failed to defend the Forest Rights Act in the Supreme Court. In Feb 2019, this led the Court to order eviction of all forest dwellers whose claims for forest rights had been rejected. But many claims of STs have been rejected without following the law. After a nationwide uproar the Court’s order was suspended. However, even after this the government has not followed the law, and over 5 lakh claims have been rejected again. When the SC case comes up again several lakh tribal and forest dwelling families may face eviction orders. The speed of diversion of forest land has nearly doubled from 6,000 hectares to 10,000 hectares a year since the NDA came to power. There has not been a single instance of any compensation being provided to the forest rights holders reported.

  36. Provisions for tribals’ autonomy and self-rule, such as the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, are not being implemented. Instead, every rule is being changed to make it easier for companies to take over land in tribal and forest areas.

  37. The right of ownership, collection, use and disposal of minor forest produces is a critical means of livelihood for many STs. In many states the forest rights holders are facing problems in exercising the MFP rights due to restrictions imposed by the forest department for collection and transport of MFPs in violation of FRA and its Rules that give power to the Gram Sabha to dispose of MFPs by issuing transit permits.

  38. On 28th June, 2022, Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 were notified, repealing the 2004 Rules. These rules make it the State government’s responsibility to complete the rights recognition process under the FRA after the grant of final approval for diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose. Resultantly, these rules will compel states to obtain consent of forest dwelling STs after the Union government has already collected money from developers towards net present value & compensatory afforestation. These alarming changes run afoul of FRA as well as the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Niyamgiri case, violating the internationally recognised principle of ‘Free, Prior & Informed consent’. Ultimately, this will make the forest clearance almost a fait accompli.

  39. Congress commits to implementing the Forest Rights Act and PESA rules in letter and spirit, settle all claims for pattas and community rights and grant titles within a time-bound manner. Responding to the demand of the Tribals, Congress is committed to enumerate their religion in the decennial census under the category ‘Tribal’.

  40. INC will ensure that transgender community shall enjoy all constitutionally guaranteed rights to lead a life with dignity. The Congress shall provide opportunity in its constitutional space for transgender community members to be themselves without fear.

  41. BJP has paid no attention to the implementation of ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013’ enacted by UPA Government. Congress Party is committed to completely eradicate manual scavenging.

  42. India has witnessed ordeals experienced by millions of migrant workers during the period of COVID 19 pandemic. Their utter neglect by the BJP Government forced them to walk, long distances which is still fresh in our minds.

  43. Congress believes it is time to pass a legislation to guarantee the right to work in urban areas that provides work on demand to urban poor particularly inter and intra state migrants, unorganized casual workers and the homeless; guarantees payment of minimum wages to all those who work in the programme; ensure that works taken up under the programme contribute to reviving urban commons, building and maintenance of roads, footpaths, and bridges; beautification and upkeep of public structures and strengthens the institutions of Urban Local Bodies and thereby implements the 74th Constitutional Amendment in letter and spirit.

  44. The UPA 2 introduced The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2011. The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee where all parties unanimously supported the legislation. But due to political stonewalling by the BJP, the Bill was not passed. The Congress Party affirms the right of every person to be heard, have their grievances redressed and demand accountability.

  45. Indian National Congress condemns BJP Government’s consistent and concerted attack on all welfare programmes meant for the most vulnerable sections of our society. Social security programmes like the NSAP, MGNREGA, Mid-Day Meals and Food Security have seen drastic reduction in allocation. Drawing inspiration from Smt. Indira Gandhi’s ‘GaribiHatao’ program, the Congress party commits to introduce “SampoornaSamajik Suraksha”, a social security framework that will have legal guarantee for minimum income and social security for the poor. It will provide a universal basket of entitlements which are the birth-right of all Indians, namely Right to Basic Income through Nyuntam Aya Yojana (Nyay), Right to Health, Pensions for single women, elderly persons and Persons with Disabilities, Comprehensive ICDS service in line with the National Food Security Act, Quality Elementary Schooling and Mid-Day Meals, Maternity Entitlements and enhanced Food Security. The Congress party commits to spearheading a central legislation to provide social security cover to all unorganised sector workers including gig workers.

  46. It is now time to join hands together (Haath se Haath Jodo) to unite India (Bharat Jodo) and to protect the Constitution of India a document which provides inalienable and equal rights to all citizens of India. The Congress party will continue its efforts of bringing all Indians together to secure social justice and ultimately triumph in this fight for saving the very soul of our great nation.

V. Subgroup - Social Justice & Empowerment

Chairman - Shri Mukul Wasnik Convenor - Shri K. Raju


  1. Smt. Meira Kumar
  2. Shri Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa
  3. Shri Kodikunnil Suresh
  4. Shri Tamradhwaj Sahu
  5. Shri Jemlabhai Naranbhai Rathwa
  6. Shri Damodhara Rajanarsimha
  7. Shri Anto Antony
  8. Smt. Phulo Devi Netam
  9. Ms. NettaD’souza
  10. Shri Rajesh Lilothia
  11. Shri Shivajirao Moghe
  12. Capt. Ajay Yadav
  13. Shri Imran Pratapgarhi
  14. Shri Udit Raj
  15. Shri Vijay Namdeorao Wadettiwar
  16. Shri Bandhu Tirkey