Since 1999, Ministry of Tribal Affairs was looking after welfare and development of STs.
National commission for STs is a constitutional body as provided by Article 338(a) of the Constitution. It came into existence in 2004.
It consists of a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President and their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by him.
Functions of the Commission-
1. Investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguarding interests of STs
2. Enquire into complaints made by STs regarding lack of rights.
3. Advice on socio- economic development of STs and look after progress of their development
4. Present reports to President annually and at other times if necessary about the safeguards
5. Recommend measures to be taken by government for protection, welfare and socio economic development of STs
6. If President specifies any other functions related to protection, welfare and socio economic development of STs
Report of Commission
The Commission submits the annual report to President who presents it before both the Houses of the Parliament, alongwith a memorandum explaining actions taken on the recommendations and reasons for non acceptance of any recommendations. In case the report pertains to State Government, he forwards it to respective Governor of the State who presents it before the State Legislature alongwith a memorandum explaining actions taken on recommendations and reasons for not accepting any recommendations.
Powers of the Commission
The Commission regulates its own procedure. While investigating complaints, it gets power of a civil court in following matters-
1. Summoning any person of India and examining him on oath
2. Requiring production of any document
3. Requisitioning any public record from a court or office
4. Receiving evidences on affidavits
5. Summoning anyone in order to examine witnesses and documents
6. Any other matter which President determines
On all policies affecting STs, the Central and State governments should consult the Commission.