National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is a constitutional body directly set up under Article 338-A of the Constitution of India. It was established with the objective to monitor various safeguards provided to the Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution or other laws. NCST falls under the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Composition of NCST
- NCST is a multimember body consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and three other members. Out of the three members, there should compulsorily be one female member.
- President of India appoints all the members of NCST, including the Chairperson, by warrant under his hand and seal.
- President also determines their service conditions and tenure of office. Currently, the members of the Commission have a term of 3 years.
Functions of NCST
- NCST investigates and monitors all the matters related to the Constitutional and other legal safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes and evaluates the working of those safeguards.
- It takes part and advises actively on the planning process of the socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes and also examines their development progress under the Union or any State.
- The commission inquires into specific complaints regarding the deprivation of rights and safeguards provided for STs.
- It makes recommendations to the measures taken by the Union or State for the effective implementation of safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare, and socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes.
- The commission reported to the President of India upon the working of those safeguards annually or when necessary.
- It discharges other functions as may specify by the President for the welfare, development, and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes.
Powers of the Commission
NCSC is empowered to regulate its own procedure. The Central and State governments also have to consult the commission on important policy matters that affect the Scheduled Tribes.
While investigating any matter or inquiring into any complaint regarding Scheduled Tribes, the commission has the all powers of a civil court, which are as follow:
- Summoning the person from any part of the country and examining him on oath.
- Receiving evidence on affidavits.
- Requiring the discovery and production of any document or public record.
- Requestioning public records from any office or court.
- Issuing summons for examination of the witnesses and documents.
- Any other matter which the President may determine.
Report of the Commission
NCST submits its annual report to the President of India annually or when it thinks necessary. The President further places these reports before the Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the commission. Memorandum also contains the reasons for the non-acceptance of any of the commission’s recommendations.
If any such report of the commission or part of its pertaining to the State Government, President also forward that report to the State governor concerned. The Governor places that report before the State Legislature, along with the memorandum of action.