2. What are the different constitutional bodies, apart from the judiciary, that have the mandate to protect the rights of citizens, especially the disadvantaged ones? Discuss.
न्यायपालिका के अलावा विभिन्न संवैधानिक निकाय क्या हैं, जो नागरिकों, विशेष रूप से वंचितों के अधिकारों की रक्षा के लिए उत्तरदायी हैं? चर्चा करें।
Demand of the question:
It expects student to write about the various constitutional bodies, apart from the judiciary, that have mandate to protect the rights of citizens. It also expects student to write about what roles do these bodies play while protecting the rights of citizen, especially the disadvantaged ones.
Human rights are basic fundamental rights which are integral part for the development of human being in the absence of which a person cannot live life with dignity. Constitution of India protects the fundamental rights or human rights of the people, provisions for the same have been made not only in the Articles of the Constitution but also through judiciary and different constitutional bodies.
India is the biggest democracy in the world. Being a democratic country one of
the main objectives is the protection of the basic rights of the people.
- In this context, Judiciary plays an important role by protecting the rights of citizens. As judiciary protects rights of citizens in general scenario various different constitutional bodies protect rights of citizens in relation to specific issues/section.
- In Indian Context Scheduled Castes(SC),Scheduled Tribes(ST),Backward Classes(BC) and linguistic minorities form the disadvantaged ones. Hence different Constitutional bodies are set up to safeguard the rights of these disadvantaged sections. Their names and mandates are as mentioned below.
National Commission for SCs:
- The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) is a constitutional body in the sense that it is directly established by Article 338 of the Constitution.
- It investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working.
- It inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs.
- Commission presents an annual report to the president.
National Commission for STs
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (STs) is a constitutional body in the sense that it is directly established by Article 338-A of the Constitution
- It investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the STs and to evaluate their working;
- It inquires into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the STs.
- Commission presents an annual report to the president.
National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC):
- Earlier the commission used to be statutory body but the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018 conferred a constitutional status on the Commission. The amendment inserted a new Article 338-B in the constitution. Hence, the Commission ceased to be a statutory body and became a constitutional body.
- It investigates and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the socially and educationally backward classes and it evaluate their working.
- It inquires into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the socially and educationally backward classes.
- The Commission presents an annual report to the President.
Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities:
- In pursuance of the provision of Article 350-B of the Constitution, the office of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities was created in 1957.
- The Commissioner takes up all the matters pertaining to the grievances arising out of the non-implementation of the Constitutional and Nationally Agreed Scheme of Safeguards provided to linguistic minorities
Role played by these bodies:
- They have worked towards complaints related mostly to promotions, discrimination and harassment on various counts, conduct of departmental enquires, transfers etc.
- NCSC monitors the implementation of the various legal provisions in force regarding atrocities against dalits. Over the years, the Commission has conducted several on-the-spot inquiries into complaints of atrocities.
- Commissions monitors the levels of literacy and educational development of the disadvantaged sections and have taken special interest in female literacy rates.
- On economic front, they have recommended land ceiling and the redistribution of surplus land by various state governments, suggested a range of tenancy reforms and several measures to prevent the alienation of tribal land.
- Literacy rate among SC/ST men and women increased by around 9% and 14 % respectively compared to 10% and 5% among non-SC/ST community.
- Health indicators including IMR, MMR etc., have improved and seen a reduction of more than 5% with respect to disadvantaged sections of society as per the report by Registrar General of India, Sample Registration System.
Several issues of the communities need attention of commission:
- NCRB data shows a spike in the number of cases filed under SC/ST prevention of atrocities act which shows the discrimination and atrocities are increasing.
- The incidents like dalit lynching in Una, Gujarat; caste related honour killings in Haryana shows that the commission has been ineffective in bringing behavioural change in the society.
- There are delays in conducting the inquiry and in delivering judgements. Also, there is a perception that the Commission tends to confirm the government’s position on most cases.
- The commission inability to reduce the incidence of atrocities and violence against dalits, or to effectively fight the persistent scourge of untouchability is a biggest failure on its part.
- The Commission has been active in suggesting ways of streamlining procedures, implement reservations but is failing in brining fundamental reforms.
- The commission decisions being only recommendatory, without a strong follow up mechanisms are mostly ignored.
It is crystal clear that rights acts like check on the arbitrary power and if they are safeguarded through the institutions like these then they will definitely help people to live a life of dignity. But the functions of the commissions can be improved by giving them the power of criminal investigation, power to penalize, fixed time period for discussion of commission reports, suo motu powers.