National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution. This Article says that only those communities who have been declared as such by the President through an initial public notification or through a subsequent amending Act of Parliament will be considered to be Scheduled Tribes.
338 A states that there shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Tribes to be known as the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes.
The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member in the National Commission of SC’s is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister, and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
As per the constitution:
However, the Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Tribes.
For example, the ST’s of India are Gond, Bhil in Andhra Pradesh; Apatani, Adi in Arunachal Pradesh etc.
Powers and functions of the Commission are mentioned as follows:
a. Summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine on oath;
b. Discovery & production of any documents;
c. Receive evidence on affidavits;
d. Requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
e. Issue Commissions for examination of witnesses and documents; and
f. Any matter which President, by rule, may determine.
Functions of the Commission:
(a) To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled 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;
(b) To participate and advise on the planning process of socioeconomic development of the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State;
(c) to make in such reports recommendation 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 Tribes; and
(d) To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.
(e) Measures that need to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.
(f) Measures to be taken to safeguard rights to the Tribal Communities over mineral resources, water resources etc. as per law.
(g) Measures to be taken for the development of tribes and to work for more viable livelihood strategies.
(h) Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects.
(i) 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.
(j) Measures to be taken to elicit maximum cooperation and involvement of Tribal Communities for protecting forests and undertaking social afforestation.