The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines poverty as a human condition characterized by sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Poverty has been and remains a constructed social and economic reality. The poor are not poor simply because they are less human or because they are physiologically or mentally inferior to others whose conditions are better off. On the contrary, their poverty is often a direct or indirect consequence of society’s failure to establish equity and fairness as the basis of its social and economic relations. Extreme poverty is denial of human rights.
In a large number of cases, our Supreme Court has considered the scope of article 21 of the Constitution, which assures right to life. To make right to life meaningful and effective, the Supreme Court put up expansive interpretation and brought within its ambit a myriad of rights.
Various laws have been enacted to eradicate poverty: some of them directly deal with them and some of them indirectly. Nevertheless, their tardy implementation makes us lag behind in effectively dealing with the problem.
In spite of the constitutional safeguards and State legislative intervention in favour of the poor and the needy, their socio-economic condition is deteriorating. Social and economic equality still remains a mirage for them.
The Law commission has expressed the view that the Union and the State Governments should accord top priority to implementation of the judgments rendered by our Supreme Court in their letter and spirit in order that the lot of the have-nots is ameliorated.