National Commission for Scheduled Castes

National Commission for Scheduled Castes



Established under Article 338 of the Constitution, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes stands as a constitutional body tasked with the vital responsibility of investigating and monitoring all matters concerning the welfare and safeguards provided to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India.

However, despite its constitutional mandate, there are persistent claims regarding the commission's perceived ineffectiveness in safeguarding the rights of Dalits and ensuring the proper implementation of protective measures. This introduction sets the stage for an examination of the challenges and criticisms faced by the commission in fulfilling its crucial role in upholding the rights and welfare of marginalized communities.

About the National Commission for Scheduled Caste

  • Constitutional Mandate: The National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) is established under Article 338 of the Indian Constitution, reflecting the state's commitment to addressing the issues faced by marginalized communities.
  • Evolution and Establishment: The 65th amendment in 1978 marked a significant milestone by constituting the NCSC, replacing the previously existing special officer for SC and ST. Subsequently, the 89th amendment in 2003 led to the division of the multi-member system, establishing separate commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The NCSC, specifically, was formally established in 2004, marking a focused approach towards addressing the concerns of the Scheduled Caste community.
  • Objectives and Functions: The primary objective of the NCSC is to safeguard the interests of the Scheduled Caste population, aiming to combat prejudice, discrimination, and exploitation faced by these communities. Additionally, the commission strives to facilitate the upliftment and development of the Scheduled Caste community by ensuring access to various facilities and opportunities.
  • Consultative Role: Both central and state governments are mandated to consult the NCSC on significant policy issues affecting the Scheduled Caste population. This consultative process highlights the commission's pivotal role in influencing policy decisions and advocating for the interests of marginalized communities at the governmental level.

About the Scheduled Caste

Historical Background

  • The categorization of certain castes as "depressed classes" first occurred during the 1931 Census, reflecting early recognition of social disadvantage and discrimination. 
  • Subsequently, the Government of India Act 1935 introduced the concept of "Scheduled Caste," laying the foundation for official recognition and affirmative action measures.

Constitutional Definition

  • Article 366 of the Constitution of India defines Scheduled Castes as specific castes, races, or tribes, or parts thereof, identified under Article 341(1) for the purpose of constitutional provisions. 
  • This constitutional recognition underscores the legal and institutional framework established to address the historical injustices faced by Scheduled Caste communities.

Composition of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes is constituted by a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and three other members, all appointed directly by the President through a warrant under his hand and seal. 
  • The conditions of service and tenure of office for these members are also determined by the President. 
  • Notably, the chairperson holds the distinguished status equivalent to a cabinet minister, while the vice-chairperson is accorded the rank of a minister of state.


  • While the tenure of the Chairman of the National Scheduled Castes Commission remains at the pleasure of the President of India, it is conventionally fixed for a period of three years, reflecting a standard practice within the Commission.



    • Regulation of Procedure: The Commission has the authority to regulate its own procedure, enabling it to efficiently carry out its mandate in accordance with established norms and guidelines.
  • Investigation and Inquiry Powers:
    • Summoning Witnesses: The NCSC can summon and require the attendance of any person from any part of India, compelling them to appear before the Commission for examination under oath.
    • Production of Documents: It has the power to require the discovery and production of any document relevant to its inquiries and investigations.
    • Receipt of Evidence: The Commission is empowered to receive evidence on affidavits, allowing for the submission of sworn statements to support its investigations.
    • Access to Public Records: NCSC can requisition any public record from any court or office, ensuring access to relevant information and documentation.
    • Examination of Witnesses: It can issue summons for the examination of witnesses and documents, facilitating comprehensive inquiries into relevant matters.
    • Other Determined Matters: The President of India may specify any other matter that falls within the purview of the Commission's investigative powers.

Functions of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes

  • Investigation and Monitoring: The Commission is entrusted with the solemn responsibility of investigating and meticulously monitoring all matters related to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under the Constitution, prevailing laws, or government orders.
  • Inquiry into Rights: It assumes the crucial role of conducting inquiries into specific complaints lodged concerning the deprivation of rights and safeguards guaranteed to the Scheduled Castes, ensuring their voices are heard and their grievances addressed.
  • Participation in Planning: Actively engaging in the planning process, the Commission offers invaluable insights and guidance on strategies for the socio-economic development of the Scheduled Caste community, facilitating inclusive and equitable progress.
  • Evaluation of Progress: The Commission undertakes the vital task of evaluating the progress of Scheduled Caste development, both nationally and within individual states, providing essential feedback for policy refinement and improvement.
  • Reporting: Obliged by its mandate, the Commission submits comprehensive reports on the efficacy of safeguard policies to the President annually, and as deemed necessary, serving as a mechanism for accountability and transparency.
  • Recommendations: It plays a pivotal role in policymaking by offering well-founded recommendations to the Union and State governments, aimed at enhancing the effective implementation of safeguards and fostering the holistic development of the Scheduled Castes.
  • Other Functions: In addition to its core responsibilities, the Commission may be tasked by the President with additional functions related to the protection, welfare, and advancement of the Scheduled Caste community, further illustrating its commitment to their upliftment and empowerment.

Role of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

  • Collection and Analysis of Statistics: The Commission collects and analyzes statistics pertaining to cases filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1955 and the Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989. This data helps in understanding the prevalence of atrocities and discrimination faced by Scheduled Castes.
  • Establishment of Special Courts: NCSC oversees the establishment of special courts dedicated to the expeditious trial of offenses under the Civil Rights Act and the Atrocities Act. These courts aim to ensure swift justice for victims of discrimination and atrocities.
  • Monitoring Case Disposal Rates: The Commission monitors the disposal rates of cases in these special courts, ensuring that justice is delivered efficiently. By tracking the progress of cases, NCSC evaluates the effectiveness of legal mechanisms in addressing atrocities against Scheduled Castes.
  • On-the-Spot Investigations: NCSC conducts on-the-spot investigations into allegations of atrocities against Scheduled Castes. These investigations help in verifying the veracity of complaints and taking appropriate action to address them.

Reporting Mechanism

In addition to its operational functions, NCSC is also responsible for submitting reports to the appropriate authorities. These reports play a crucial role in ensuring transparency and accountability in addressing issues related to Scheduled Castes. 

Here's how the reporting mechanism works:-

  • Reports to Parliament: The President ensures that all reports prepared by NCSC are laid before each House of Parliament. Along with these reports, a memorandum explaining the actions taken or proposed to be taken on the Commission's recommendations is provided.
  • State Government Involvement: If any report concerns matters related to State Governments, copies of such reports are forwarded to the respective Governors. The Governors are then responsible for laying these reports before the State Legislature. Similar to Parliament, a memorandum detailing the actions taken or proposed to be taken on the recommendations is included.

List of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes along with their respective Chairmen and the year of their establishment

  • 1st National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Suraj Bhan
    2. Year: 2004
  • 2nd National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Dr. Buta Singh
    2. Year: 2007
  • 3rd National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Dr. P.L. Punia
    2. Year: 2010
  • 4th National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Raj Kumar Verka
    2. Year: 2013
  • 5th National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Prof (Dr.) Ram Shankar Katheria
    2. Year: 2017
  • 6th National Commission for Scheduled Caste
    1. Chairman: Vijay Sampla
    2. Year: 2021


The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights and welfare of Scheduled Castes in India, as mandated by the Constitution. Despite challenges and criticisms, the Commission diligently investigates grievances, monitors legal proceedings, and offers recommendations for policy improvement. Through its consultative role and active participation in planning, NCSC contributes significantly to promoting inclusive development and combating discrimination. However, there remains a pressing need for enhanced effectiveness and accountability to ensure meaningful progress towards achieving social justice and equality for marginalized communities.

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