National Commission for Scheduled Castes
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National Commission for Scheduled Castes – Indian Polity Notes

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes is an Indian constitutional body under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.

Historical Background:

In India people belonging to ‘untouchables’ have faced worst form of discrimination for generations or time immemorial. The constituent assembly wanted to abolish this dehumanising practice. The Assembly unanimously decided to make certain provisions in the constitution itself which will protect these communities from further discrimination. They while abolishing the practice of untouchability also provided with affirmative action for them. Establishment of National Commission for Scheduled Castes was one such step. 

Who are Scheduled Castes:

Article 343(1) defines Scheduled Castes as, “The President may with respect to State or Union Territory after consultation with Governor thereof, with public notification, specify castes, races, tribes or part of groups within caste, races, tribes which shall for the purpose of this constitution be deemed as Scheduled Castes”.

Constitution empowers the Parliament to include or exclude any caste form list of scheduled castes.

In summary, those castes which are specified by the President in the list are considered as scheduled castes. 


Commission consists of Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other members. 

They are appointed by the President and continues to hold office for 3 years. The members are not eligible for reappointment after serving 2 terms.


According to Article 338(5) functions/duties of the commission are:

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to constitutional and other legal safeguards for SCs and to evaluate their working.
  • To inquirer into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards to the SCs.
  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socioeconomic development of the SCs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a State. 
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as it may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
  • To make recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or State for effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for protection, welfare and socioeconomic development of the SCs.
  • To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the SCs as the President may specify.


While investigating the matters referred to in sub-clause (a) of Article 338 to inquire into any complaint referred to in sub-clause (b) of clause 5, the Commission have all the powers of a Civil Court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters:

(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath;

(b) requiring the discovery and production of any documents;

(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;

(d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;

Commission also performs similar duties with regards to Anglo Indian Community too.


The commission submits the Annual Report to the President. The commission can submit a report as when it seems fit. The President lays down the reports in both houses of parliament. In addition of reports memorandum explaining actions taken based on recommendations of commission is submitted.

Being an constitutional body, it also performs quasi-judicial functions. It’s recommendations cannot be denied by the Government unless there exists a substantial reasons.


  • Even in clear cut cases of discrimination, officials do not follow recommendations of NCSC. As the recommendations of NCSC are not enforceable but doing so denies the justice to victims of caste based discrimination.
  • Despite of being a constitutional body, NCSC doesn’t have independence in budgetary matter, it has to depend upon Union Ministry of Social Justice.
  • Irregularities in submission of report. Annual reports gets delayed by two or three years. Last report was published for 2017-18.
  • Government Departments/PSUs file writ petition against recommendations of NCSC and high officials of such department doesn’t attend inquiries of commission even when warranted.

Measures to Empower:

  • Strengthening legal and judicial protection of SCs under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
  • Imposing monetary penalty on authorities violating Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act. 
  • Independence of NCSC- Functioning & Budget: On lines of other constitutional bodies like Election Commission, UPSC etc. NCSC shall be empowered to draw money from Consolidated Fund of India independently of any union ministry.
  • NCSC shall be allowed to hire it’s own counsel.
  • Increase in staff strength
  • Opening new offices


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