POLITY

NCSC/ST/BC

NCSC/ST/BC

I.   NCSC – National Commission for Scheduled Castes


Breaking Down the Basics

  • National Commission for Scheduled Caste is a constitutional body formed on 19 February 2004, under Article 338 of the Constitution.

  • NCSC was established with a view to safeguard the interests of the scheduled castes and protect them against exploitation.

  • Article 338 of the Constitution deals with National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

  • Article 338 A deals with National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

  • Since its formation there have been 5 commissions with the fifth NCSC in progression currently.

  • The commission is committed to the full implementation of the various acts like the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the SC and ST Act, 1989.

  • The Commission gives voice to the vulnerable communities and acts as a guardian for the protection and welfare of the Scheduled Castes.

Current Affairs POI – Fifth National SC Commission Chairman: Dr Ram Shankar Katheria.


What is a Scheduled Caste?

  • Article 366 (24) – Refers to Scheduled Castes as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 341 of the Constitution.

  • U/A 341(1) – President after consultation with the Governor may specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.

  • U/A 341(2) – Parliament may by law include or exclude communities from the list of Scheduled Tribes.

  • After the Constitution (Eighty-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2003 the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been replaced by –
    National Commission for Scheduled Castes; and
    National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.


Composition

  • Members of the Commission are appointed by the President by a warrant under his hand and seal.

  • The conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the President.

  • Commission consists of –
    Chairman - Given rank of Union Cabinet Minister.
    Vice Chairman - Rank of a Minister of State.
    3 other subordinate members (including 1 lady member) - Rank of a Secretary to the Government of India.

  • The term of office for Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Member of NCST is 3 years from the date of assumption of charge.


Duties and Functions

The duties of the Commission along with its powers and functions are detailed under Article 338 of the Constitution.


NCSC/ST/BC

Way Forward

  • Swift and strict action should be taken on advice of the Commission to ensure upliftment of Scheduled Castes.

  • Action towards eliminating additional step in trial process – Commission has recommended amendment to the Act to remove this lacuna.

  • Address Commission’s special report that stated that ignorance of law, fear of reprisals and lack of faith in the enforcement system, often compels victims to acquiesce in the existing unjust situation.



II.   NCST– National Commission for Scheduled Tribes


Breaking Down the Basics

  • NCST is a Constitutional body established through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003, formed on 19 February 2004.

  • It is set up under Article 338-A to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution.

Current Affairs POI - Nand Kumar Sai is the Chairman of the commission, Anusuia Uikey is Vice-chairman.


What is a Scheduled Tribe?

  • Article 366 (25) - Refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.

  • U/A 342(1) - The President after consultation with the Governor may specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.

  • U/A 342(2) - Parliament may by law include or exclude communities from the list of Scheduled Tribes

POI - The largest number of tribal communities (62) are found in Odisha, while no tribe was identified in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Pondicherry.


Composition

  • Members of Commission are appointed by President by warrant under his hand and seal.

  • The conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the President.

  • Commission consists of –
    - Chairperson
    - Given Rank of Union Cabinet Minister.
    - Vice – Chairperson
    - Given Rank of a Minister of State.
    - Three full-time members (including one lady member)
    - Given rank of a Secretary to the Government of India.


Duties and Powers

Duties enumerated under Clause (5) Of Article 338 (A):

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the STs and to evaluate their working.

  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the STs.

  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a state.

  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as it may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.

  • To make recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or a state for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the STs.

  • To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the STs as the President may specify.



NCSC/ST/BC

III.   NCBC– National Commission for Backward Classes


Breaking Down the Basics

  • NCBC is a Constitutional body formed in 14 August 1993.

  • Two backward class commissions were set up namely the Kelkar Commission and the Mandal Commission, before a permanent body was set up.

  • In Indira Sawhney case, Supreme Court asked government to set up a permanent body to examine and recommend the inclusion and exclusion of such backward classes for purpose of various benefits.

  • Hence, NCBC was set up on 14 August 1993 under National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.

  • Constitutional status was given only in 2018, via the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018 by adding a new Article 338B.


Who are Backward Classes?

  • Socially and Educationally Backward Classes means the backward classes that are deemed under Article 342A for the purposes of this Constitution.

  • The President may by public notification specify the socially and educationally backward classes in relation to that State or Union territory after consultation with the Governor.

  • However, a law of Parliament is required if the list of backward classes is to be amended.


Composition

  • According to Article 338B –
    the Commission shall consist of:
    - a Chairperson;
    - Vice-Chairperson; and
    - 3 other Members

and the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson            and other Members so appointed shall be such as the President may by rule determine.

  • The Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

  • The Commission shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.


Functions of the Commission


NCSC/ST/BC



Challenges

  • Issues –
    The new Act has recognized that Backward Classes need development in addition to reservations and enhanced the role of NCBC in the development process.
    However, it is apprehended that the new version of the National Commission for Backward Classes is unlikely to provide credible and effective social justice architecture as its recommendations are not binding on the government.
    Further, since it has no responsibility to define backwardness, it cannot address the current challenge of demands of various castes to be included as BCs
    Additionally, Article 338B (5) is silent on the SC mandate on periodic revision of the backward class list in consultation with the NCBC.


Way Forward -


- Body should be more efficient and expert in its functioning.
- The Commission should have a greater say in the determination of backward classes.

NCSC/ST/BC