In this article, we will discuss the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes in a simple and easy way and will also consider all other important facts related to it.

The Scheduled Castes Commission and the Scheduled Tribes Commission used to be one in the past, but now both work as separate bodies under separate ministry. So read this article till the end and also read other articles written on various commissions. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.

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National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
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| Who is a Scheduled Tribe (ST)?

It has been explained under Article 342 as to who is or will be a Scheduled Tribe (ST).

Article 342 states that – (1) The President, in relation to any State or Union territory, where that State is; there may, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts thereof or group thereof. shall, for the purposes of this Constitution, be deemed to be a Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union territory.

(2) Parliament has the right, by law, to grant to any caste, race or tribe or part thereof or group thereof; may include in or exclude from the list the Scheduled Tribe specified in the notification issued under clause (1).

Q. Why was there a need to set up a commission for Scheduled Tribes?

Scheduled Tribe (ST) refers to those community or castes of the society who for some reason live in forests or mountains away from the main society and adopt the primitive culture. We usually also call it Aboriginal or Nomadic.

The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that some community in the country needs special attention due to primitive agricultural practices, lack of basic facilities and geographical isolation, to protect their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development. These communities were notified as Scheduled Tribes in accordance with the provisions contained in Article 342 of the Constitution.

In independent India, these community or caste people can be brought into the main stream of the society, and they can be saved from exploitation and inequality etc.; For this it was necessary that there should be a separate commission or department in the government concerned with the interest of these people. In this context, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was constituted.

| What is National Commission for Scheduled Tribes ?

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is a constitutional body established with the objective of providing safeguards against exploitation of Scheduled Tribes to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests.

  • It is a constitutional body because Article 338 A of the Constitution of India interprets it as – There shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Tribes to be known as the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs , Government of India.

| History of the Commission

Originally Article 338 of the Constitution provided for the appointment of a special officer for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (both). Whose main job was to inspect all the matters related to the constitutional protection of scheduled castes and tribes and to submit the report related to them before the President.

The first commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (both) was set up in August 1978. It was set up as a national level advisory body to advise the government on broader policy issues and levels of development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. But it was a non-statutory body as it was created by a resolution.

In 1987, the government, through another resolution, changed the name of the commission to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes .

Later, by the 65th Constitutional Amendment 1990, a multi-member constitutional body at the national level was established, which came to be known as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. In this way the commission which was constituted by a resolution in 1987 was merged with this newly formed Constitutional Commission.

The first constitutional National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes came into existence in 1992. Altogether four such commissions came into existence, in which both the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes were included. But since the Scheduled Tribes were different from the Scheduled Castes from the geographical and cultural point of view, the need was felt to create a separate department for them.

In the year 1999, the Scheduled Tribes were separated from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and handed over to a new Ministry ‘Ministry of Tribal Welfare’.

Further, by the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes was divided into two parts and two new commissions named National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (under Article 338’A’) were formed. .

Overall, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes came into existence separately from the year 2004.

Other national commissions like National Commission for Women 1992, National Commission for Minorities 1993, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights 2007, etc. are statutory commissions and not constitutional commissions, because they have been established by an Act of Parliament.

| Composition of the Commission

The commission consists of a chairman, a vice-chairman and three other members. They are appointed by the President by his order and stamped order. Their service conditions and tenure are also determined by the President. Remember here that the Commission has the power to regulate its own procedure.

The term of the President, Vice-Chairman and each member is three years from the date on which they assume office. The Speaker has been given the status of a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Vice-Chairman has been given the status of a Minister of State and the other members as Secretaries to the Government of India.

functions of the commission

Clause 5 of Article 338 A explains the duty of the Commission;

  1. To investigate and monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes under this Constitution or under any other law or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
  2. To investigate and hear specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of Scheduled Tribes.
  3. To participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes. and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
  4. To report to the President annually and at such other times as may be necessary.
  5. To make recommendations in such reports as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.

The commission submits its annual report to the President. The President causes this report to be laid in each House of the Parliament.

If the report or any part thereof relates to a matter to which the State relates, a copy thereof shall also be sent to the Governor of the State, who shall cause it to be laid before the State Legislature.

  1. To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes. As the President may, by rule, specify, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament.

| Powers of the Commission

Clause 8 of Article 338 A explains the powers of the Commission; According to which, when the Commission is inquiring into any act or inquiring into any complaint, it shall have the powers of a civil court, that is to say;

  1. summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
  2. requiring the appearance and production of any document;
  3. receiving evidence on affidavits;
  4. requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
  5. issuing commissions for the examination of documents;
  6. Any other matter which may be determined by the President.

It is to be remembered here that Article 338 A (9) provides that the Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all important policy matters affecting the Scheduled Tribes.

Other functions of the commission

In 2005, for the protection, welfare, development and advancement of Scheduled Tribes, the President has prescribed some other duties for the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which are as follows;

(i) To take such measures under which the ownership rights of minor forest produce can be given to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.

(ii) To take, by law, measures to protect the rights of tribal communities on mineral and water resources etc.

(iii) To take measures to work on more viable livelihood strategies for the development of tribals.

(iv) To take measures to improve the effectiveness of relief and rehabilitation for tribal groups displaced by development projects.

(v) Measures should be taken to prevent the alienation of tribal people from the land and to rehabilitate such people effectively.

(vi) To take measures to achieve maximum cooperation and participation of tribal communities to protect forests and undertake social afforestation.

(vii) To take measures to ensure full implementation of the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.

(viii) To take measures to reduce and eventually eliminate the practice of shifting cultivation (jhum cultivation) by the tribals.

| approach and methodology

Keeping in view its constitutional obligations and issues which, after almost half a century of independence, are now important for the overall development and mainstreaming of the Scheduled Tribes. The present Commission, constituted in February 2004, has adopted a more vigorous approach. The meetings of the Commission are held regularly and the implementation of the decisions taken is closely monitored.

In order to monitor and evaluate the impact of the development plans, the Commission has been engaged to interact more actively with the State/UT Governments by holding State level review meetings with Chief Secretaries and other senior officers and conducting field level visits. has decided. The Commission feels that as a result of these visits and meetings, the State/UT Governments will become more aware of the real problems of the Scheduled Tribes and will take necessary initiatives to work out remedial measures and adopt appropriate strategies.

The Commission has also conducted field level inquiries and studies through its Headquarters and State Offices. This process has been given a new impetus with a view to ensure speedy relief, especially in cases relating to crimes and atrocities on Scheduled Tribes and to ensure grant of development benefits.

The process of investigation of complaints, especially in respect of violation of service safeguards, has also been streamlined to ensure speedy disposal of cases and relief in genuine cases. Many long pending cases are being decided in one or two meetings by convening the officers and concerned liaison officers in the Commission with all relevant records. The Commission has also exercised its powers of the Civil Court to summon documents and enforce attendance at interrogation.

The Commission is of the view that it is only through proper planning and effective implementation of suitable schemes for development that the Scheduled Tribes can hope to align with the rest of the population and realize their full potential. Thus, the Commission has made a beginning by actively engaging itself and participating in the planning process at the national and state level. Regular communication is being done with Planning Commission, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and State/UT Governments. The annual plans of Central Ministries, State and Union Territory Governments are being analyzed in the Commission with the support of its State Offices.

| Constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Tribes

There are many such provisions in the Constitution for the Scheduled Tribes, which protect their interests in a multi-dimensional manner; as:

Article 15(4)  :-  Under this, affirmative action can be taken in favor of Scheduled Tribes even in spite of the things written in Article 29(2).

Article 29 –  Under this, the Scheduled Tribes get the right to maintain their language, culture or script etc.

Article 46 : – Under this, it is the duty of the government to make its policy in such a way that the educational and economic interests of the Scheduled Tribes can be increased.

Article 350:-  Under this, for the redress of his grievance, any person has the right to make representations to any officer of the State in any language used in the Union or in the State.

Article 350 ‘A’ :-  Under this, a linguistic minority can give primary education to its children in their mother tongue. And it is the duty of the President to direct the state to ensure such a system.

Article 350 ‘B’: –  Under this, a President shall appoint a special officer for linguistic minorities, who shall investigate matters relating to their safeguard measures and submit them to the President, so that the President can cause them to be laid before Parliament or the State Legislature.

Article 23  : –  This article protects against human trafficking and forced labor.

Article 244: –  Under this, all the provisions of the Fifth and Sixth Schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the Scheduled Tribes area in other states of the country including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Article 275: –  This article talks about grants-in-aid to the specified states falling under the fifth and sixth schedules of the constitution.

Article 330: –  This article gives reservation to the Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha.

Article 332: –  This article gives reservation to the Scheduled Tribes in the State Legislative Assemblies .

Article 243 D and 243 T :-  Under both these articles, provision has been made for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes in Panchayats and Municipalities respectively.

Along with this, efforts have been made to empower them through reservation in posts, appointments and promotions. You can read the article given below to know how this reservation works.

Reservation in India [1/4][1/4]
Constitutional basis of reservation and its various aspects [2/4][2/4]
Evolution of Reservation [3/4][3/4]
Roster – The Maths Behind Reservation [4/4][4/4]

So overall this was the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes; Hope it is understood. You would know that Scheduled Tribes also get the benefit of reservation in India, so read the given article for complete information regarding reservation.

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