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The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to respond to a plea seeking appointment of members of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) which has allegedly become non-functional.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud sought the government's response within four weeks on the PIL which also prayed for fixing a time-frame to fill up the vacancies in NCST.
The counsel for the Centre sought some time for taking instruction which was granted by the court.
The petition filed by advocate Radhakanta Tripathi, who deals with issues pertaining to Scheduled Tribes, claimed that the entire commission is defunct and has become a non-entity before the eyes of the law as the positions of members of the panel, which was created by a constitutional amendment, have been lying vacant for years.
It said as per Article 338A of the Constitution, there is a provision for appointment of a chairperson, vice chairperson and three other members of the commission but at present there was no member and the chairperson and vice chairperson are on the verge of retirement.
"Since the respondents (Union of India and Ministry of Tribal Affairs) have failed to appoint the members of the commission, it has become non-functional," the plea said.
It said that the consequences of non-appointment of members who are to assist and solve the issues relating to the people belonging to Scheduled Tribes has adverse effect for inclusive growth of India.
"Plans, proposals for uplift of tribal, eradication of Naxalism and vision of inclusive growth cannot fructify unless their issues are dealt with on utmost priority," it said.
The petition also said the central government has taken a number of steps for the social, economic and educational uplift of Scheduled Tribes and special schemes for their betterment and these issues are to be monitored and taken care of by NCST.
"Non-appointment of members has made the ambition of the government for social, economic and educational uplift of Scheduled Tribe community, futile and unreachable," it said.