NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCs
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) is a constitutional body in the sense that it is directly established by Article 338 of the Constitution. On the other hand, the other national commissions like the National Commission for Women (1992), the National Commission for Minorities (1993), the National Commission for Backward Classes (1993), the National Human Rights Commission (1993) and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2007) are statutory bodies in the sense that they are established by acts of the Parliament.
EVOLUTION OF THE COMMISSION
- Originally, Article 338 of the Constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for the SCs and STs and to report to the President on their working.
- Later, the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990 provided for theestablishment of a high level multi-member National Commission for SCs and STs.
- Again, the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003 bifurcated thecombined National Commission for SCs and STs into two separate bodies, namely, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (under Article 338) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (under Article 338-A).
- The separate National Commission for SCs came into existence in 2004. Itconsists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working;
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs;
- To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the SCs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a state;
- To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the SCs as the president may specify.
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION
- The commission presents an annual report to the president. It can also submit a report as and when it thinks necessary.
- The President places all such reports before the Parliament, along with amemorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission.
- The President also forwards any report of the Commission pertaining to astate government to the state governor. The governor places it before the state legislature, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations of the Commission.
POWERS OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission, while investigating any matter or inquiring into anycomplaint, has all the powers of a civil court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:
- Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
- Requiring the discovery and production of any document;
- Receiving evidence on affidavits;
- Requisitioning any public record from any court or office;
- Issuing summons for the examination of witnesses and documents;
The Central government and the state governments are required to consultthe Commission on all major policy matters affecting the SCs. The Commission has to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the OBCs and the Anglo-Indian Community and report to the President upon their working.