NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR STs
Like the National Commission for Schedules Castes (SCs), the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (STs) is also a constitutional body inthe sense that it is directly established by Article 338-A of the Constitution.
SEPARATE COMMISSION FOR STs
- The National Commission for SCs and STs came into being consequent upon passing of the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990. The Commission was established under Article 338 of the Constitution with the objective of monitoring all the safeguards provided for the SCs and STs under the Constitution or other laws.
- Geographically and culturally, the STs are different from the SCs and their problems are also different from those of SCs. In 1999, a new Ministry of Tribal Affairs was created to provide a sharp focus to the welfare and development of the STs.
- The separate National Commission for STs came into existence in 2004. It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION
The functions of the Commission are:
- 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;
OTHER FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION
In 2005, the President specified the following other functions of the Commission in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the STs:
- Measures to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to STs living in forest areas
- (Measures to be taken to safeguard rights of the tribal communities over mineral resources, water resources etc., as per law
- Measures to be taken for the development of tribal and to work for more viable livelihood strategies
- Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects
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 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.