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National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

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Last updated date: 21st Feb 2024
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National Commission of Scheduled Tribes as per Article 338 and Article 338A

The National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is the result of the 89th Constitution Amendment Act of 2003. This commission was introduced for the welfare of the on 19th February 2003. The amendment of Article 338 in 2003 resulted in the formation of this commission. During this amendment the commission was segregated for scheduled castes as well as scheduled tribes. This amendment added Article 338A which deals with National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. 


What is the National Commission for ST?

India is well-known for its diversity. There are many tribes and castes or sects that suffer from extreme backwardness in the aspect of social and economic spheres. This lack can be witnessed in the infrastructural facilities, agricultural practices, and geographical isolation.


Articles 341(1) and 342(1) determine these groups of people, tribes, castes, etc as the backward classes that need proper supervision from the authoritative bodies. As per Article 338 of the Indian Constitution, a Commissioner or a Special Officer was appointed to look after the matters and provide recommendations to the Central Government after proper investigation.


Several changes and developments were seen back in the days based on the welfare of SCs and STs. With 89th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, two different constitutional bodies were established. A commission was then set up and became effective in 2004 following the amendment. These two commissions were:

  • The National Commission for Schedules Castes (NCSC)

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

The National Commission of Scheduled Caste (NCSC) will take care of the welfare and growth of the scheduled castes in India whereas the (NCST) latter will look after the matter of development of the scheduled tribes.


Composition of NCST

  • As per the 89th Constitutional Amendment 2003, the commission will be headed by a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and other three members who will work under the head full time. 

  • The tenure of these members is of 3 years. In the next cycle, a new set of members will be chosen for the posts of these commissions. 

  • The first National Scheduled Tribe Commission chairman was Kunwar Singh in 2004. His tenure ended in 2007 and was succeeded by Urmila Singh. 


Functions of NCST

The functions of the National Scheduled Tribe Commission are:

  • Investigation and monitoring of all the matters related to safeguarding STs as per the Constitution of India.

  • Evaluation of the functions and working of the members appointed in different regions.

  • Do inquiry based on specific complaints regarding deprivation of birthrights and safeguard the best interest of the STs.

  • Advise and plan socio-economic development of the STs and do an evaluation of the progress under the supervision of the state and union governments.

  • Recommendations and reports should be presented to the President of India regarding the implementation of plans and their progress.

  • Proper measurement of the progress and develop recommendations to report to the President directly for the socio-economic welfare and safeguarding of the STs.

  • To make necessary changes based on the amendments and laws passed in the Parliamentary sessions under the supervision of the President of India.

  • Taking measures regarding conferring pieces of forests as homelands for STs.

  • Safeguarding the rights of tribal communities regarding water resources, mineral resources, etc.

  • Formulating viable and more efficient livelihood strategies for STs.

  • Rehabilitation and relief of tribal communities when displaced by projects initiated by the central and state governments.

  • Rehabilitation of the alienated tribes.

  • Providing maximum cooperation to the tribal communities regarding forest protection and afforestation measures.

  • Supervising the elimination of shifting cultivation done by tribal communities and empower them and also stop degradation of land.


All these functions come under Clause 5 of Article 338A. The elected members of the Commission will be obligated to follow the functions and responsibilities as described in the Amendment and Articles of the Constitution of India. Under this act, the government looks after and safeguards the educational, cultural, social, economic, and political aspects of the tribal communities.


The formation of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes shows how the Central Government makes necessary laws to protect the interests of the backward classes. It also signifies the realization of the overall growth of a country depends on the welfare of all.


Conclusion

Thus, in this article we have learnt about the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Originally in the Indian Constitution, there was a provision of having a Special Officer for Scheduled Tribes under Article 338 and then later through amendment special constitutional body was established which was known as National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Hence, it is now a constitutional body and tools after matters related to the scheduled tribes of the country.

FAQs on National Commission of Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

1. Who are scheduled castes and scheduled tribes?

The scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) are considered to be the groups of people living in remote terrain and are suffering from the lack of infrastructure and professional development. These groups of people are considered backward classes who are still waiting for the growth facts to touch their lives and to make their lifestyles better. The categories are defined by the Constitution of India and are designated to get help from the State and Union Governments directed by the Central Government of India. The Central Government has also introduced the National Commission for ST for taking care of the overall welfare of the tribal communities and backward classes.

2. What is Article 338A?

Article 338A is the result of the 89 Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003 that dictates the functions of the NCST to survey and present recommendations to the President of India. The commission is also directed to safeguard the best interests of the tribal communities entitled under the Constitution of India. The recommendations of the Commission will also assist the Central Government to take necessary steps to make the lives of tribes better and to offer better resources for survival. It will also stop the deprivation of birthrights as a native of India and provide them a safer place to thrive.

3. What is the significance of NCST?

India is the home of 705 distinct tribes recognized by the Constitution of India. The development of these tribes is in the hands of the Central Government and is looked after by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. This constitutional bodies looks after all the safeguards which are present in the Constitution and checks if its implementation is being done properly or not and also forced the government regarding this in order to implement these sfaeguards. On the other hand, it also enquires and looks after the complaints and matters related to the ST community.