National commission for SC and ST [NCSC/NCST]
1] It was established by amending the article 338. And inserting a new article 338 (A) through the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act 2003. By this amendment the erstwhile officer for SC & ST was replaced by two separate commissions.
2] In the original constitution, the article 338 provided for special officers for SCs and STs to protect their interests and evaluate their progress in the country.
3] In 1988, union government initiated the 65th constitutional amendment act after finding that the institutional support was insufficient.
4] In 1990 National commission for SC and ST was established as constitutionally approved institution to protect interest of SCs & STs.
5] Later in 2003, 89th constitutional amendment act replaced the National commission for SC and ST with two separate commission.
Article 338 established NCSC.
Article 338(A) establishes NCST.
Chairperson, vice chairperson and 3 full time members including one woman member..
Article 338(5) & 338(A)(5) lists the functions of NCSC & NCST.
1] To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes/Tribes under this Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
2] To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes/Tribes.
3] To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes/Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
4] To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
5] To make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes/Tribes.
6] To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes/Tribes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.
SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989
The act prohibits the commission of offences against members of SC and ST and establishes special courts for such offences and rehabilitation of victims.
It defines atrocities as being forced to:
1] Ear or drink something offensive.
2] Parading an individual naked.
3] Sexually assaulting a woman.
4] Forced to leave house or village.
They are termed atrocities, only when committed by non-SC/ST member against SC/ST individual.
The offences registered under the act are cognisable offences with no requirement for the police to obtain a warrant against a errant individual. Moreover, it is a non-bailable offence under which bail can be denied.
The punishment under the act range from a minimum of 6 months to 5 years.
Under the act, public officials, if failed to uphold the act or neglect it’s implementation, it can become a ground for punitive action against them including a jail term upto 1 year.
Act also talks about the need for the state to ensure the rehabilitation of the victims.
For concerns of Scheduled Castes, please visit Caste in Indian Politics.