Why in news?
The High Court of Karnataka has said that the Karnataka State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has no power in law to issue direction to the State government to withhold the grants to educational institutions.
- The commission in September 2021 directed the government to withhold grants as an interim order on a complaint made by H. Hanumantha, who belongs to the SC community and was working as a headmaster in a school run by the society.
- The school had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for alleged misconduct and demoted him to the post of a teacher following outcome of the proceedings.
Observations made by the court:
- The court pointed out that the provisions of the Karnataka State Commission for the SC and ST Act, 2002, do not empower the commission to issue such direction to the government.
- The court said the clause does not empower the commission direct the authorities concerned to withhold grants made in favour of an institution as in the instant case. It also noted the impugned order is in the nature of of an interim order which without enquiring into whether the petitioner has been discriminated against because he belongs to a Scheduled Caste category.
The Karnataka State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes act, 2002
The Karnataka State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes act 2002, provides for,
- The constitution of State Commission, and the terms of office and conditions of service of the chair person and other members.
- The powers and functions of the commission.
- Manner of maintaining account of the commission and the audit of such accounts.
The Commission shall consist of the following members, namely:-
(a) the Chairperson, who has special knowledge in matter relating to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes nominated by the State Government;
(b) two persons, who have special knowledge in matters relating to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes nominated by the State Government;
(c) The Director, Social Welfare or Director Tribal Welfare shall be the Member Secretary of the Commission respectively in matters pertaining to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Term of Office and Conditions of service of the Chairperson and Members.-
(1) Subject to the pleasure of the State Government, the Chairperson and every member shall hold office for a term not exceeding three years as may be specified by the State Government.
(2)The Chairperson or a member of the Commission may, at any time by writing under his hand addressed, to the State Government, resign his office.
(3) The State Government shall remove a person from the office of the Chairperson or of a member if that person,-
(a) Becomes an undischarged insolvent; or
(b) Has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which, in the opinion of the State Government, involves moral turpitude; or
(c) Becomes of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or
(d) Refuses to act or becomes incapable of acting; or
(e) Without obtaining leave of absence from the commission, absents from three consecutive meetings of the Commission; or
(f) Has in the opinion of the State Government so abused the position of Chairperson or Member as to render that person’s continuance in office detrimental to the interest of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes:
Provided that no person shall be removed under this clause unless that person has been given an opportunity of being heard in the matter.
(4) A vacancy caused under sub-section(2) or otherwise shall be filled by fresh nomination.
(5) The salaries and allowances payable to and the other terms and conditions of service of the Chairperson and allowance payable to the Members shall be such, as may be prescribed
Functions of the Commission.-
The functions of the commission shall be as follows,-
- to investigate and examine the working of various safeguards provided in the constitution of India or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government for the welfare and protection of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of Karnataka and;
- to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguard of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of Karnataka and to take up such matter with the appropriate authorities;
- to participate and advise on the planning process of socio economic development of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development in the State.
- to make recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the State for the effective implementation of safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio economic development of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and to make report to the State Government annually and at such other time as the Commission may deems fit.
- to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare, development and advancement of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as may be prescribed: Provided that if any matter specified in this section is dealt with by the National commission for Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes established under Article 338 of the Constitution of India the State Commission for Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall cease to have jurisdiction on such matter.
Laying of Report.-The State Government shall cause such reports referred to in clause (d) of Section 8 to be laid before each House of the State Legislature explaining action taken or proposed to be taken and the reasons, if any, for nonacceptance of the recommendations.
Powers of Commission.-
The Commission shall, while investigating any matter under section 8, have all the powers of a civil court in trying a suit and in particular, in respect of the following maters, namely:-
(a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of the State and examining him on oath;
(b) Requiring the discovery and production of any document;
(c) Receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
(e) Issuing Commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents; and (f) any other matter which may be prescribed.