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Introduction

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) is constitutionally mandated, having been directly instituted by Article 338 of the Constitution. In contrast, other national commissions, like the National Commission for Women (1992), the National Commission for Minorities (1993), the National Human Rights Commission (1993), and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2007), are statutory bodies, established through acts of Parliament.National Commission for SCsNational Commission for SCs

Evolution

  1. Initially, Article 338 of the Constitution mandated the appointment of a Special Officer for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) to investigate and report on constitutional safeguards for these groups, known as the Commissioner for SCs and STs.
  2. In 1978, a non-statutory multi-member Commission for SCs and STs was established through a government Resolution, coexisting with the continued existence of the Office of the Commissioner for SCs and STs.
  3. The government, in 1987, modified the functions of the Commission through another Resolution, renaming it as the National Commission for SCs and STs. This change was later institutionalized by the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990.
  4. The 1990 amendment replaced the single Special Officer for SCs and STs with a high-level multi-member National Commission, superseding both the Commissioner and the 1987 Commission.
  5. Subsequently, the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003 further divided the unified National Commission for SCs and STs into two separate bodies: the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (under Article 338) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (under Article 338-A).
  6. The standalone National Commission for Scheduled Castes was established in 2004, comprising a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and three other members appointed by the President. Their conditions of service and tenure of office are determined by the President, and they serve a term of three years, with eligibility for reappointment limited to two terms.

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Functions

The Commission is tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • Investigating and overseeing all aspects pertaining to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and assessing their effectiveness.
  • Examining specific complaints related to the violation of rights and safeguards for SCs.
  • Participating in and offering guidance on the planning process for the socio-economic development of SCs, as well as assessing the progress of their development within the Union or a state.
  • Submitting reports to the President annually and as required, detailing the functionality of these safeguards.
  • Providing recommendations on the measures that the Union or a state should undertake to ensure the effective implementation of safeguards and other initiatives for the protection, welfare, and socio-economic development of SCs.
  • Fulfilling any other functions specified by the President concerning the protection, welfare, development, and advancement of SCs.

Report

The Commission submits an annual report to the President, and it has the flexibility to present additional reports when it deems necessary. 

  • These reports, along with a memorandum explaining the actions taken based on the Commission's recommendations, are placed before the Parliament by the President.
  • The memorandum is crucial as it provides reasons for any recommendations that have not been accepted.

Simultaneously, the President forwards Commission reports related to a state government to the respective state governor.

  • The governor, in turn, places these reports before the state legislature, accompanied by a memorandum.
  • This memorandum serves to explain the actions taken in response to the Commission's recommendations and includes reasons for any non-acceptance of those recommendations.

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What are the responsibilities of the Commission regarding Scheduled Castes (SCs)?
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Powers

The Commission possesses the authority to regulate its own procedures. When conducting investigations or addressing complaints, it is endowed with the powers of a civil court trying a suit. This includes:

  • Summoning and compelling the attendance of individuals from any part of India, examining them under oath.
  • Demanding the discovery and production of relevant documents.
  • Accepting evidence on affidavits.
  • Requisitioning public records from any court or office.
  • Issuing summons for the examination of witnesses and documents.
  • Any other matters determined by the President.

Both the Central and state governments are obligated to consult the Commission on significant policy matters that impact the Scheduled Castes (SCs).

The Commission is also tasked with similar responsibilities concerning the Anglo-Indian Community, investigating all matters related to constitutional and legal safeguards for this community and reporting to the President.

Until 2018, the Commission was additionally mandated to perform analogous duties for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). However, the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018 relieved it of this responsibility.

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FAQs on Laxmikanth Summary: National Commission for SCs - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is the National Commission for SCs?
Ans. The National Commission for SCs is a constitutional body established under Article 338 of the Indian Constitution. It is responsible for the monitoring and safeguarding the rights of Scheduled Castes (SCs) in India. The commission works towards promoting the social, educational, and economic development of SCs and ensuring their welfare.
2. What are the functions of the National Commission for SCs?
Ans. The National Commission for SCs has several functions, including: - Investigating and monitoring all matters relating to the safeguards provided for SCs under the Constitution. - Inquiring into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of SCs. - Participating and advising in the planning process of socio-economic development of SCs. - Evaluating the progress of the development programs and schemes for SCs. - Making recommendations for the effective implementation of constitutional and legal safeguards for SCs. - Conducting studies, research, and publishing reports related to the socio-economic conditions of SCs.
3. How does the National Commission for SCs contribute to the empowerment of Scheduled Castes?
Ans. The National Commission for SCs plays a crucial role in the empowerment of Scheduled Castes in India. It ensures the effective implementation of constitutional safeguards and legal provisions for the welfare of SCs. The commission investigates complaints of discrimination and deprivation of rights faced by SCs and takes necessary actions to provide justice. It also advises the government on policies and programs for the socio-economic development of SCs and monitors their implementation. Through its studies, research, and reports, the commission highlights the issues and challenges faced by SCs and recommends measures for their upliftment.
4. What is the significance of the National Commission for SCs in promoting social justice?
Ans. The National Commission for SCs plays a significant role in promoting social justice in India. It acts as a watchdog to ensure that the rights and safeguards provided to SCs under the Constitution are effectively implemented. The commission investigates complaints of discrimination and exploitation faced by SCs and takes appropriate measures to provide justice. By monitoring the implementation of development programs and schemes for SCs, it ensures that social justice is realized in terms of their socio-economic upliftment. The commission's recommendations and reports also contribute to creating awareness and advocating for social justice for SCs in the country.
5. How does the National Commission for SCs contribute to the eradication of caste-based discrimination?
Ans. The National Commission for SCs plays a crucial role in the eradication of caste-based discrimination in India. It acts as a platform for SCs to voice their grievances and complaints related to discrimination. The commission investigates these complaints and takes necessary actions to provide justice. By monitoring the implementation of constitutional safeguards and recommending effective measures, the commission works towards eliminating caste-based discrimination. It also conducts studies and research to highlight the challenges faced by SCs and publishes reports to create awareness and advocate for the eradication of caste-based discrimination.
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