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National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes had an origin similar to the NCSC. It was constituted as a separate Commission in 2004 following the amendment of Article 107 and insertion of Article 338A by the Constitution (Eighty-ninth Amendment) Act, 2003. Before that, as mentioned above, monitoring of constitutional safeguards provided to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was done by a common body.

The composition, term, functions, powers and procedure for presentation of Reports in case of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) are similar to that of the NCSC. The constitutional and legal safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes are also similar to those provided for SCs.

The NCST functions through six units which look after administration, coordination, socio-economic and educational development, service safeguards and atrocities related matters. The NCST has six regional offices which provide it with a regional perspective.

Functions of the Commission

1. To investigate & Monitor matters relating to Safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. Order, to evaluate the working of such Safeguards.
2. To inquire into specific complaints relating to Rights & Safeguards of STs;
3. To participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to Socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
4. To submit report to the President annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, upon/ working of Safeguards, Measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to Welfare and Socio-economic development of STs;
5. To discharge such other functions in relation to STs as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify;
6. The Commission would also discharge the following other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes, namely:-
• Measures that need to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.
• Measures to be taken to safeguard rights to the Tribal Communities over mineral resources, water resources etc. as per law.
• Measures to be taken for the development of tribals and to work for move viable livelihood strategies.
• Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects.
• Measures to be taken to prevent alienation of tribal people from land and to effectively rehabilitate such people in whose case alienation has already taken place.
• Measures to be taken to elicit maximum cooperation and involvement of Tribal Communities for protecting forests and undertaking social afforestation.
• Measures to be taken to ensure full implementation of the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (40 of 1996).
• Measures to be taken to reduce and ultimately eliminate the practice of shifting cultivation by Tribals that lead to their continuous disempowerment and degradation of land and the environment

Socio-economic Development of Scheduled Tribes

For the Socio-economic and overall development of the Tribal people, special provisions and safeguards have been provided in the Constitution of India and some initiative have also been taken by the Government of India, including Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) strategy. The Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) strategy was aimed for the rapid socio-economic development of tribal people. The funds provided under the Tribal Sub Plan of the State have to be at least equal in proportion to the ST population of each State or UTs. Similarly Central Ministries/Departments are also required to earmark funds out of their budget for the Tribal Sub-Plan. As per guidelines issued by the Planning Commission, the Tribal Sub Plan funds are to be non-divertible and non-lapsable. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes is vested with the duty to participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.

Practice question:

1. As a civil court, which of the following powers are available to the NCST?
1. Summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine on oath
2. Discovery & production of any documents
3. Requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office

Codes:

a) 1 and 2

b) 2 and 3

c) 1 and 3

d) All

Ans: d
Exp: For Investigation and Inquiry, the Commission is vested with powers of a civil court having authority to:
• Summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine on oath;
• Discovery & production of any documents;
• Receive evidence on affidavits;
• Requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
• Issue Commissions for examination of witnesses and documents; and
• Any matter which President, by rule, may determine.

 

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