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National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST):

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.



The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has been dysfunctional for the last four years and has not delivered a single report to Parliament, a parliamentary committee has said in a recent report.


The pending reports include:

  • A study by the Commission of the impact of the Indira Sagar Polavaram Project in Andhra Pradesh on the tribal population.
  • A special report on rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced tribals because of the Rourkela Steel Plant.

Challenges/issues associated with the functioning of NCST:

  • Manpower and budgetary shortage.
  • Less number of applicants as the eligibility bar is set too high.
  • Its rate of pendency of resolution of complaints and cases that it receives is also close to 50 per cent.


About NCST:

NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).

Composition: The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member 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.
  • They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • At least one member should be a woman.
  • The Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson and the other Members hold office for a term of 3 years.
  • The members are not eligible for appointment for more than two terms.


Powers: NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order. The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.

Report: The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.



Prelims Link:

  1. About NCST.
  2. About NCSC.
  3. Constitutional provisions.
  4. About Articles 338 and 338A.
  5. Functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the functions of NCSC.

Sources: the Hindu.