About the Division

Social Defence

About the Division
The Social Defence Division of the Department mainly caters to the requirements of:
  • Senior Citizens
  • Victims of alcoholism and substance abuse
  • Transgender Persons
  • Beggars / Destitute

1.Senior Citizens: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the Nodal Ministry for matters relating to the Senior Citizens. Constant increase in life expectancy due to improvement in the health care facilities over the years is one of the main reasons for rapid increase in proportion of population of Senior Citizens. As per Census 2011, the total population of Senior Citizens (people aged 60 years and above) is 10.38 crore, of which population of males and females are 5.11 crore and 5.27 crore respectively. The share of senior citizens in the total population as per Census 2011 is 8.57%. As per the May 2006 Report of the “Technical Group on Population Projections” constituted by the National Commission on Population published by the Office of the Registrar General of India this share is expected to increase to 10.70 % in 2021 and to 12.40% in 2026. The Ministry develops and implements Acts, Policies and Programmes for welfare of Senior Citizens in collaboration with State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations to ensure that Senior Citizens may lead a secured, dignified and productive life. The following Policies, Act, and Programmes which aim at welfare and maintenance of Senior Citizens, especially for indigent senior citizens, are being dealt with in the Ageing Division:-

  1. National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) –The existing National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) was announced in January 1999 to reaffirm the commitment to ensure the well-being of the Older Persons. The Policy envisaged State support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of Older Persons, equitable share in development, protection against abuse and exploitation, and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives. Keeping in view the changing demographic pattern, socio-economic needs of the Senior Citizens, social value system and advancement in the field of science and technology over the last decade, a new National Policy for Senior Citizens is under finalization to replace the NPOP, 1999.
  2. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWPSC Act) - The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007 was enacted in December 2007 to ensure need based maintenance for Parents and Senior Citizens and their welfare.
  3. Central Sector Scheme of “Integrated Programme for Older Persons”(IPOP) - Under the Scheme, financial assistance is provided to Government/ Non-Governmental Organizations/Panchayati Raj Institutions/ local bodies etc. for running and maintenance of various projects for the welfare of indigent Senior Citizens under the Scheme of IPOP.

2.Victims of alcoholism and substance abuse

Drug and Alcohol abuse has become a major concern in India. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, is the nodal Ministry for drug demand reduction. It coordinates and monitors all aspects of drug abuse prevention which include assessment of the extent of the problem, preventive action, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, dissemination of information and public awareness. The Ministry provides community-based services for the identification, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts through voluntary organizations.

  • Extent, Pattern and Trend of Drug Abuse

In a National Survey conducted by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, for the year 2000-2001(report published in 2004), it was estimated that about 732 lakh persons in India were users of alcohol and drugs. Of these 87 lakh used Cannabis, 20 lakh used opiates and 625 lakh were users of Alcohol. About 26%, 22% and 17% of the users of the three types respectively were found to be dependent on/addicted to them. The survey also indicated that other drugs such as Sedatives/Hypnotics, volatile substances, Hallucinogens, Stimulants and pharmaceutical preparations were also abused. It revealed that most users were in their early thirties, most had not sought treatment and very few were currently undergoing treatment. In addition, regions of high prevalence of Opiate use were Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Western Rajasthan. However the sample size being small (40,697 males within the age group of 12-60 years both in rural and urban areas) vis-a -vis the country’s population, the estimates can at best be taken as indicative only.

  • Approach and Strategy of the Ministry

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment recognizes drug abuse as a psycho-socio-medical problem, which can be best handled by adoption of a family/community-based approach by active involvement of NGOs/CBOs. The strategy for demand reduction is three pronged with the following:

  1. Awareness building and educating people about ill effects of drug abuse.
  2. Community based intervention for motivational counselling, identification, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, and
  3. Training of volunteers/service providers and other stakeholders with a view to build up a committed and skilled cadre.
  • Scheme for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse

For the purpose of drug demand reduction, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been implementing the Scheme of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse since 1985-86. Under this scheme, financial assistance up to 90% of the approved expenditure is given to the voluntary organizations and other eligible agencies for setting up/running Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs). In the case of North-Eastern States, Sikkim and Jammu & Kashmir, the quantum of assistance is 95% of the total admissible expenditure. The Scheme was revised earlier in 1994, 1999 and 2008 and recently w. e. f. 1.1.2015. The Scheme provides financial support to NGOs and employers mainly for the following items:

  1. Awareness and Preventive Education
  2. Drug Awareness and Counselling Centres (CC)
  3. Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCAs)
  4. Workplace Prevention Programme (WPP)
  5. De-addiction Camps (ACDC)
  6. NGO forum for Drug Abuse Prevention
  7. Innovative Interventions to strengthen community based rehabilitation
  8. Technical Exchange and Manpower development programme
  9. Surveys, Studies, Evaluation and Research on the subjects covered under the scheme.

The Ministry has setup a National Tollfree Drug-de-Addiction Helpline No:-1800-11-0031 (w.e.f) 07.01.2015 to help the victims of drug abuse,there Family & Society at large.


Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been dealing with the matters relating to Transgender Persons with effect from July 2012. However, the work relating to Transgender Persons was allocated to this Department under the Allocation of Business Rules in the month of May 2016. An Expert Committee was constituted to make an in-depth study of the problems being faced by the Transgender Community. The Committee has submitted its report on 27th January 2014, suggesting various measures to ameliorate the condition of the transgender persons. The concerned Central Ministries and the State/ UT Governments are being consulted for their suggestions/views on the recommendations made by the Expert Committee and also confirm what action can be taken at their end.

On 15th April, 2014, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has, in a Writ Petition No. 400/2012 filed by National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) delivered its judgment on the issues of Transgender Persons directing the Central and State Governments to take various steps for the welfare of the transgender community and also to examine the recommendations of the Expert Committee based on the Legal declaration made in the above said judgment.

The Expert Committee has recommended that “Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment may set up a Standing Coordination Mechanism in the form of an Inter-Ministerial Committee for coordinating the welfare activities being undertaken by the various Ministries and State/UT Governments for transgender community comprising representatives of concerned Central Govt. Ministries and representatives of State Governments.” Accordingly, an Inter-Ministerial Committee has been constituted to discuss these issues. Till date four Inter Ministerial meetings have been conducted.


The word ‘beggar’ or ‘beggary’ is not mentioned in any of the lists of the Constitution. However,as per entry-9 of the State List in the Seventh Scheduleof the Constitution, “Relief of the disabled and unemployable” is a State subject.As per entry-15 of the Concurrent List, “Vagrancy” is a concurrent subject. As per information available at present, 20 States and 2 UTs have either enacted their own Anti Beggary Legislation or adopted the legislation enacted by other States. Despite the fact that many States/UTs have enacted laws relating to beggary, however, the provisions of these legislations differ across the States and their status of implementation, including the measures taken for rehabilitation of beggars, are also not uniform.

The Ministry's approach towards addressing the problem of beggary is rehabilitative rather than punitive. Accordingly, the Ministry is in the process formulating a Model Legislation on Destitution which could be suitably adopted/adapted by the States/UTs and also formulating a Scheme for Protection, Care and Rehabilitation of Destitutes.