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Updated: Aug 26, 2020

By Ms. Madhumitha. N


The term ‘social security’ means the security provided by the society to individuals to ensure the basic securities required by the people like for example health care, income security, etc. The society here refers to the Government which is obliged by the Constitution to grant social security to the citizens of India. The right to social security is also a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution and is an obligation on the Government under Part IV of the Indian Constitution. This article will analyze this Fundamental Right and how it has been implemented to the people of India.


The concept of social security was first introduced in Germany as ‘Social Security Scheme’ in the year 1883.Social security refers to the measures provided by the Government to meet certain unforeseen expenditures like health care, maternal benefit etc., and also to secure income which might be useful at a later period of time. Examples of social security include medical care, insurance, maternity, unemployment, disability, etc.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): Article 22 of this declaration secures the right to social security. It states that everyone as a part of this society has the right to social security.[i]

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966): Article 9 of this Convention states that every person has the right to social security including social insurance.[ii] Also, Article 10 states that special protection should be provided to mothers for a reasonable period before and after childbirth with paid leave and social security benefits.


Preamble: The Preamble is the short form of the Indian Constitution. The Preamble ensures the right of social security by ensuring the creation of Socialist State. The principle aim of socialism is to eliminate inequality of income, status, and standard of life and to provide a decent standard of life to the working people.

Article 21: Right to social security has been considered to be under the ambit of right to life and personal liberty. The Supreme Court in the case of Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation (India) v. Subhas Chandra Bose[iii]held that the means to achieve right to life and liberty is also an essential Fundamental Right under Article 21. The term ‘means’ also includes the right to social security.

Article 38:This article states that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order to promote social security and justice. The State shall also strive to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities.

Article 41: The State shall ensure the right to work, education and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and other cases of undeserved want.

Article 42: The State shall make appropriate legislations to secure just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Article 43: This Article states that the State shall enact legislations to secure a living wage for the workers to ensure a decent standard of living.


The Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution provide for the establishment of legislations to secure social security for the people of India. The following are the legislations enacted to secure social security in India:

i. Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923[iv] – This Act ensures the payment of compensation to the employee or his family in case of injuries which resulted in death or disablement during the course of employment.

ii. Factories Act, 1948[v] – The Factories Act ensures to protect the workers in factories. It ensures adequate safety measures and promote the health and safety of the workers.

iii. Employment State Insurance Act,1948[vi]–This Act is applicable for factories and establishments with 10 or more employees and provides for medical care to employees and their families in case of sickness, maternity, death or disablement.

iv. Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952[vii] – It applies to factories and establishment with 20 or more workers. The Act aims to ensure terminal benefits to provident fund, superannuation pension and family pension in case of death during service.

v. Maternity Benefit Act, 1961[viii] – This Act has been amended recently which provides 26 weeks paid leave during maternity and also other birth related contingencies.

vi. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972[ix] – This Act directs factories and establishments with ten or more employees to provide the payment of 15 days of additional wages for each year of service to employees who have worked for 5 years or more.


The right to social security is not a direct single right but takes various forms thereby ensuring various rights to the citizens. In the case of Regional Director, ESI Corporation v. Francis De Costa[x], the Supreme Court held that security against sickness and disablement is a Fundamental Right under Article 21. Also, in the case of LIC v. Consumer Education and Research Centre[xi], it was observed that social security has been assured under Article 41 and 47 and it imposes a positive duty on the State to raise the standard of living and to improve public health. The Supreme Court’s verdict on the Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation case (supra) stands to be a landmark judgment on the right to social security.


Workers or employees are the backbone of any factory or establishment. Employers tend to exploit employees and extract maximum work from them. It is the duty of the State to ensure that employees are not exploited and are provided basic amenities and security for a decent standard of living. The State is obliged to perform this duty by Part IV of the Indian Constitution. Social security helps to improve the standard of living of the people and also the working standards, health, income of the workers or employees. Therefore, right to social security stands to be an important implied Fundamental Right of the Indian Constitution.

[i]Universal Declaration of Human Rights art. 22, Dec. 10, 1948, 217 A (III). [ii]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right art. 9, Dec. 16, 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3. [iii] Calcutta Electricity Supply Corporation v. Subhas Chandra Bose, A.I.R. 1992 S.C. 573 (India). [iv]Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, No. 8, Acts of Parliament, 1923 (India). [v]Factories Act, 1948, No. 63, Acts of Parliament, 1948 (India). [vi]Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, No. 34, Acts of Parliament, 1948 (India). [vii]Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, No. 19, Acts of Parliament, 1952 (India). [viii]Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, No. 53, Acts of Parliament, 1961 (India). [ix]Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, No. 72, Acts of Parliament, 1972 (India). [x]Regional Director, Employees State Insurance Corporation v. Francis De Costa, (1996) 6 S.C.C. 1 (India). [xi]LIC v. Consumer Education and Research Centre, (1995) 5 S.C.C. 482 (India).

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