The NCSC is a constitutional body formed under Article 338. Its mandate includes monitoring the application of laws against atrocities faced by Dalits, fast and effective resolution of staff concerns, and literacy and educational advancement of Dalits.
However, to effectively carry out its purpose, the NCSC requires strengthening because of following reasons:
- According to NCRB data, there has been an upsurge in cases of discrimination and abuses in public places and services. For example, crimes against Scheduled Castes climbed 7.3% in 2019.
- Inaction: Because the Commission responds to complaints, it has been accused of being insensitive to the exclusions caused by lack of knowledge or information, and of not exercising its suo-moto cognizance powers sufficiently.
- No disciplinary powers: The Commission’s rulings are frequently ignored because they are simply advisory and lack robust enforcement.
- Annual Reports: Annual reports are not regularly tabled in Parliament. For example, the last annual report was in 2016.
The NCSC can initiate specific institutional and legal changes to improve SC socio-economic empowerment, such as:
- Strengthening the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
- The Commission’s appointment procedure should be independent of the current government.
- Reforms including criminal investigation authority, penalties, and a specified time period for reporting to Parliament are required.
- Better civil society engagement: NCSC can develop a formal platform for civil society groups working on SC problems.
- Ensuring proper government policy implementation: NCSC can constantly monitor current initiatives like Scheduled Caste Sub Plan.
Restructuring NCSC’s tasks is merely one step in this approach. True SC empowerment requires a sensitive and sympathetic society that realises their obligation to work towards eradicating societal injustices.