5 Mar 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Examine the mandate and powers of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) in protecting the rights and interests of Scheduled Castes. Also enumerate the challenges faced by the NCSC in fulfilling its responsibilities.

(250 Words/ 15 Marks)


NCSC is a constitutional body as it is directly established under Article 338 of the constitution. The mandate and power of the NCSC in protecting the rights and interests of the Scheduled Castes can be seen from:

  1. Mandate/function of the commission:
    • Investigations: To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and also to evaluate their working.
    • Inquiring into rights: To enquire into complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards for the SCs.
    • Socio-economic development/welfare measures: NCSC has the power to recommend measures to Union and state governments for welfare, protection, and socio-economic development of SCs.
    • Reports: NCSC does the seminal task of presenting to the President a report upon the working of the safeguards for the SCs.
  2. Powers of the NCSC:
    • NCSC is vested with the power to regulate its own procedure; the commission while investigating any matter or inquiring into any complaint, has the powers of a civil court.
    • NCSC has the power of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
    • NCSC may require the discovery and production of any document/receiving evidence on affidavits.
    • The central government and the state governments are required to consult the commission on all major policy matters affecting the SCs.

Though a constitutional body, NCSC faces several challenges as can be seen from:

  1. Even though the commission have extensive powers of investigations and recommend action, its recommendations are not binding in nature.

E.g., as per a report, between 2018 and 2020, cases registered for crime against SCs rose from 42,793 to 50,000.

  1. NCSC suffers from logistical lapses like lack of adequate staff, administrative/investigative wherewithal etc., to handle complaints at the national level.
  2. According to experts, the insensitivity of administration/executive towards the recommendations and proposals of the commission makes the body less effective in redressing the vows of SCs.
  3. As per critics, the appeal against the commission’s rulings in judiciary induces delay, rendering the purpose of swift delivery of justice to SCs ineffective.

In order to make the NCSC more effective in its functioning, it is desired to bring about holistic changes, such as:

  1. NCSC should be accorded the power to punish in case of violation or non-pursuance of its recommendations.
  2. NCSC should be accorded robust investigative machinery in order to exhaustively investigate crimes against the SCs across the length and breadth of the country.
  3. The day-to-day functioning of the NCSC can be improved by providing it with a dedicated cadre and presence at all the three tiers of governance viz., Union, states and Panchayats/Municipalities.
  4. The commission should be made more accessible to the common citizens concerned.

E.g., the publications/reports of the commission should be translated to vernacular languages; digital reach of the commission should be enhanced etc.

  1. The administration, especially at the cutting-edge level, should be sensitised about the violation and deprivation of rights of the SCs and the role of the commission in upholding the same.

The welfare credentials of the government dictate that the wellbeing and development of those at the last mile should not be compromised. In this context, the role of NCSC in upholding the rights of the SCs is indispensable in the Indian polity.

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