The People's Charioteer Organization has moved the Supreme Court seeking appointment of a full-term Chairman/ Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other members of the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes (NCSC and NCST) under Article 338 of the Constitution.
Article 338 and 338A of the Constitution envisage provisions to protect and safeguard the rights of the SC/ST community by contemplating the establishment of the two Commissions.
The petition has been filed by the organization's Secretary, Ankur Azad through Advocates Rajesh Inamdar, Shashwat Anand, Amit Pai, Faiz Ahmad and Sarveshvari Prasad.
The plea states that since the abovementioned offices have been lying vacant, these Commissions have failed to provide any relief in matters relating to the SCs and STs of India. They have also failed to publish Annual Reports (since 2016 in case of NCSC and since 2018 in case of NCST) on the developments and working of the safeguards put in place for these communities.
Such acts/omissions, the plea states,
"shows the total lack of empathy and seriousness, as regards the rights of the SCs and STs and the redressal of the encroachment and transgressions of their rights, the result of which has proved catastrophic to the whole community which is extremely vulnerable and is now bearing the brunt of being targeted systematically by the anti-social elements."
It may be noted that appointments of the Chairperson and other posts at the Commissions is governed by (i) SC/ ST Chairperson & Members (Conditions of Service and Tenure) Rules, 1990 and (ii) NCST Chairperson, Vice CP & Members (Conditions of Service and Tenure Rules) 2004.
These Rules stipulate that in case the office of the Chairperson becomes vacant the duties of the Chairperson will be discharged by the Vice-Chairperson; similarly, if the office of the Vice Chairperson falls vacant the members can discharge such functions.
In the present case however, the Commissions neither have a Chairperson, nor a Vice-Chairperson and not even members. Thus, it is prayed that the Central Government be directed to appoint a full-term Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other members of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) under Article 338A of the Constitution.
"It is submitted, that in the instant case the office of the Chairmen/Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons and also that of the members are vacant and in such situation the absence of G crucial office-bearers, means that these Commissions are being run by the bureaucracy, which makes them toothless, ineffective and renders several victims of the atrocities remediless. This makes these Commissions redundant and ephemeral, and thus, failing the very constitutional objectives and mandate for which they have been established," the plea states.
Inter alia, it is pointed out that the Uttar Pradesh Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, established under the UP Commission for SC/ST Act, 1995, has been without a Chairperson for over 10 months.
Therefore, the plea seeks a direction upon the UP Govt to make appointment of the Chairman in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
The petition has been drawn by law-students Sagar Kushwaha, Saumitra Anand, Priyanshi Baniwala and Sean McDonald.