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NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCHEDULED CASTES

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCHEDULED CASTES
Highlights

The social and economic position of the Scheduled Castes had been the concern of the founding fathers of the Constitution.

The social and economic position of the Scheduled Castes had been the concern of the founding fathers of the Constitution.

For providing safeguards for Scheduled Castes special provisions were made to promote the social, educational, economic and service interest of this section of the society.

In order to ensure that the safeguards are properly implemented the Constitution on its inception, provided for appointment of a special office under Article 338 of the Constitution to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes and report to the President about the working of these safeguards.

The safeguards provided to Scheduled Castes:

1. Social Safeguards
2. Economic Safeguards
3. Educational & Cultural Safeguards
4. Political Safeguards
5. Service Safeguards

Historical Background of the National
commission for Scheduled Castes &
Scheduled Tribes

1.In pursuance of this provision a Special Officer known as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes was appointed for the first time on 18th November, 1950.

By 1965 the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes has 17 regional offices located in various States, headed by Assistant Commissioners for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who were in July 1965, re-designated as Deputy Commissioners.

This field organization of the Commissioner was recognized into 5 Zonal offices in June 1967 and placed under the control of the newly created Directorate General of Backward Classes Welfare in the department of Social Welfare.

Each Zonal office was headed by a Zonal Director. Backward Classes welfare & the erstwhile regional Deputy Commissioner for SC & ST were re-designated as Deputy Directors.

Backward Classes welfare and placed under the control of Zonal Directors located at Chandigarh (Northern Zone), Bhopal (Central Zone), Patna (Eastern Zone), Baroda (Western Zone) and Madras (Southern Zone).

The Eastern Zone office has two branches at Bhubaneswar and Shillong and later a branch office of the Central Zone was set up at Lucknow. Each of these branches was headed by a Deputy Director. The Western Zone office was shifted to Ahmedabad in 1969.

2. It was felt that the office of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was not enough to monitor the safeguards provided to SCs & STs.

Hence, due to voice raised by Members of Parliament, a proposal was mooted for amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution (46th Amendment) by replacing the single member Special Officer by multi-member system.

The first Commission for SC & ST came into being on August, 1978. With effect from 1-12-78 the field offices were transferred to the newly set up Commission for SCs & STs and the Zonal Directors, BCW and the Deputy Directors, BCW were re-christened as Directors for SCs & STs and Deputy Directors for SCs & STs respectively.

Later on the Zonal set up was abolished and the Commission once again had 17 field offices. Since the field Directors were also working for the Commissioner for SCs & STs, they were re-designated as Director for SCs & STs and Ex-officio Deputy Commissioner for SCs & STs.

Bifurcation of NCSC & NCST
1. The functions of the Commission for SCs & STs and of the O/o Commissioner for SCs & STs co-existed till 11.03.1992. The erstwhile O/o Commissioner for SCs/STs during their office had submitted 30 reports.

2. The setup of the Commission of 1978 underwent change in 1987 and it was named as National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This Commission being a National Level Advisory body played the role of adviser on major policy and developmental issues relating to SCs/STs. This Commission for SCs & STs had submitted 8 reports during its tenure.

Replacement of Commissioner for
SCs and STs with the National
Commission of SCs and STs.

i.The Govt. have constituted a National Commission for SCs and STs w.e.f. 12-3-92 in pursuance of the constitution (Sixty fifth Amendment) Act, 1990 replacing the Commissioner for SCs and STs appointed under Art, 338 of the constitution.

All powers exercised by the Commissioner for SC & STs earlier, have b'een taken over by the National Commission tor SCs and STs. Therefore, all references where consultation with the Commissioner for SCs and STs have been prescribed for various purposes connected with reservation in services/posts under Central Govt may now be sent to the National Commission for SCs and STs.

ii. The National Commission for SCs & STs came into being consequent upon the 65th Amendment Bill, 1990 notified on 8.6.1990, and rules there under were notified on 3.11.1990.

Investigation and Inquiry by the Commission
The Commission shall function by holding ‘sittings’ and ‘meetings’ at any place within the country and also through its officers at the Headquarters and in the State Offices.

The Members of the Commission including the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson shall function in accordance with the procedure prescribed under the rules.

The Commission may adopt any one or more of the following methods for investigating or inquiring into the matters falling within its authority:

(a) by the Commission directly;

(b) by an Investigating Team constituted at the Head quarters of the Commission; and

(c) through its State Offices

(d) by the State Agencies

(e) by any other institution/Deptt funded by Central Govt. and its statutory bodies.
Activities as per Mandate

The Commission has a wide charter in terms of functioning relating to the overall policy, planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory frameworkand developmental programmes relating to the Scheduled Caste community.

The Commission draws its strength from the Article 338 of Indian Constitution which is the backbone of its functioning.

Clause 5 of the Article 338 of the Constitution states that the Commission has the duty to investigate, monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided to theScheduled Castes under the Constitution, inquire into specific complaints of violation / deprivations of such safeguards, to participate in the planning processof socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes.

(a) to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under this Constitution or under any other law for the timebeing in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards;

(b) to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes;

As per the provisions of Clause 5 (c) of Article 338, the Commission is required to participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic developmentof SCs and evaluate the progress of their development under Union and States /UTs.

(d) to present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;

(f) to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.

Clause 8 of the Article 338 of the Constitution confers the power of a civil court to the Commission while investigating any matter as laid down under Clause 5.
Clause 9 of the Article 338 of the
Constitution reads as follows:

“The Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Castes.” The Constitution has made it mandatory for the Union and every State Government to consult the Commission on all major Policy matters affecting SCs.

This is very important function of the Commission, which is to keep track of all the major policy decisions, Legislative or Executive action taken by the Government of India or any State Government.

Safeguards to Scheduled Castes
Article 366(24) “Scheduled Castes” means such Castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article
341 to be Scheduled Castes for the purpose of this Constitution.

Article 341(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within the castes, races or tribes which shall for the purpose of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.

Article 341(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.

The safeguards provided to Scheduled Castes:
Social Safeguards - Article 17, 23, 24 and 25 (2) (b)
Economic Safeguards - Article 23, 24 and 46
Educational & Cultural Safeguards - Article15 (4)
Political Safeguards - Article 232, 230
Service Safeguards - Articles 16(4), 16(4A) and 335
Statutes and Legislations
n The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
n The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes

(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

n The Employment of Manual Scavengers and
Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition)Act,

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