Where are the country’s SC/ST Commissions headed?

While the National Commissions for SC and STs are still without Chairpersons, the few states that have these Commissions have no better story to tell


On November 30, Karnataka High Court questioned the state government about the appointment of Chairperson to the Karnataka State Schedule Caste/Scheduled Tribe Commission. The position has been lying vacant since 2018!

A Division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty said, “State must make a statement on the next date about outer limit within which appointment of Chairperson of SC/ST Commission will be made. If there are vacancies of members even a statement of filling those vacancies, shall be made on the next date,” as reported by LiveLaw.

The high court gave this direction while hearing a petition filed by RTI activist Maruthi seeking filling up of that position. If this is the state of affairs of SC/ST Commission in Karnataka, how are other states doing? Do all states have such commissions? How well is the National level Commission doing? Here’s a look:

National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

As per a report by HT, the NCSC has been without a Chairperson since May. Although a quick glance of the NCSC website would give an impression that former MP Ram Shankar Katheria is still the Chairperson, the HT report states that his tenure ended in May, 2020 which means the Commission has been headless for 6 months.

On October 3, TOI reported that BJP member Sanjay Paswan, a Dalit leader from Bihar is in the run up for heading the NCSC. However, no official announcement on such an appointment has been made yet.

The last Annual report of the NCSC that is publicly available is for the year 2016-17 which was laid in Parliament in 2018. The last meeting of the Commission was held in September 2019; one can assume further meetings of the NCSC got hindered due to Covid-19 pandemic.

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

The NCST is no better and the website clearly states that all member positions at the Commission, including the chairperson, are currently vacant. It was headed by BJP’s Nand Kumar Sai until February this year, which means the Commission has not performed any of its functions in the last 9 months.

Further, as per its website, the last meeting of the commission was held in February 2020, and its latest Annual report is for the year 2015-16. The last hearing of a case was held on March 18, 2020.

State level Commissions

The website of NCSC reveals that currently 12 states have state level commissions including Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Goa.

While most state commissions do not have a dedicated website, thus revealing no information to the public regarding its reports and functioning, many do not have clear information on the current chairperson of the respective commissions. Only Kerala and Chhattisgarh have a dedicated website for their Commissions, But Chhattisgarh has no clear information on who the Chairperson is, and if there is one in the first place. The Kerala Commission is headed by retired IAS officer BS Movoji.

The only other Commission whose Chairperson is known to be current is Goa, with Ramesh Tawadkar of BJP heading it. The same is clear from an interview of his covered by Doordarshan recently and there is no official record of him holding the position, on the internet for public access.

All other state commissions are without a website and possibly without even chairpersons, as there is no public data to that regard. The list of state level chairpersons on the NCSC website is also outdated.

The MP state commission Chairperson Anand Ahirwar meanwhile obtained a stay from the high court, on his removal by the newly formed BJP government. It was reported by HT on July 23 that Ahirwar claimed that his office was locked by the Secretary as per orders from the state government, thus obstructing performance of his duty. He had alleged that the BJP-led state government was harassing him as the body decided to probe the incident in Guna, where a Dalit couple allegedly consumed pesticide and another couple from the family was beaten up by police.

The crime rates against the SC and STs in the country has only seen a rise in the past few years and the callous manner in which state level as well as national level commissions are functioning is a matter of grave concern. With the courts of law already bogged down by pending cases which have extrapolated due to the pandemic restricting court functioning, it is Commissions such as these that need to work in tandem as constitutional and statutory bodies to resolve cases of atrocities against these vulnerable communities. As per the 2019 report of National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) crimes against SCs saw a 7% rise and crimes against STs saw a 26% rise as compared to 2018.


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