Constitution 65th Amendment Act, 1990

Article 338 of the Constitution provides for a Special Officer for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution and to report to the President on their working. It was felt that a high level five-member Commission under article 338 will be a more effective arrangement in respect of the constitutional safeguards for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes than a single Special Officer. It was also felt that it is necessary to elaborate the functions of the said Commission so as to cover 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  and  Scheduled Tribes and to entrust to the Commission such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as the President may, subject to any law made by Parliament, by rule  specify. It was also felt that the reports of the said Commission shall be laid before Parliament and the Legislatures of the States

Important provisions

Amendment of article 338:

In article 338 of the Constitution,-

  • The following marginal heading was substituted, namely”National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes”
  • Clauses (1) and (2) were substituted with the following provisions:
    • There shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to be  known as the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
    • (2) The Commission was made to consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and five other Members and the conditions of service
      and tenure of office of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members so appointed shall be such as the President may by rule determine.
  • The Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his
    hand and seal.
  • The Commission shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.
  • It shall be the duty of the Commission:
    • to investigate and monitor all matters relating the safeguards
      provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under   the 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.
    • to inquire  into  specific complaints with respect to the
      deprivation of rights and safeguards of the  Scheduled  Castes   and Scheduled Tribes.
    • to participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
    • to present to the President, annually and at such other times  as
      the  Commission  may  deem  fit, reports upon the working of  those safeguards.
    • 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 and Scheduled Tribes.
    • to discharge such other functions in relation to the  protection,
      welfare  and  development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes  and Scheduled  Tribes  as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.
    • The President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each
      House of  Parliament  along with a memorandum explaining  the   action taken  or proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to  the Union  and the reasons for the non-acceptance, if any, of any of  such recommendations.
    • Where any such report, or any part thereof, relates to any matter
      with  which  any State Government is concerned, a copy of such  report shall  be forwarded to the Governor of the State who shall cause it to be  laid  before the Legislature of the State along with a  memorandum explaining  the  action  taken  or  proposed   to   be  taken  on   the recommendations  relating  to  the  State  and  the   reasons  for  the non-acceptance, if any, of any such recommendations.
    • The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred  to
      have all the powers of a  civil  court trying  a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:

      • summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;
      • requiring the discovery and production of any document;
      • receiving evidence on affidavits;
      • requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
      • issuing  commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents;
      • any other matter which the President may, by rule, determine.
    • The Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission
      on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
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