Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are two categories of historically disadvantaged groups in India brought to address social discrimination and provide affirmative action measures for their empowerment. In our Indian Constitution, Article 341 & 342 pertains to the provision for Scheduled Castes (SC and Scheduled Tribes (ST) respectively). It states that the President has the power to notify certain castes or tribes as SCs or STs.
But how does the President announce SC and ST? What is the process of selection for SC/ST categories? These are a few questions that need to be dealt with in depth. So, this article will discuss all these and many more. Stay tuned till the end!
Constitutional Provisions on SC/ ST
Article 341 of the Constitution of India
This provision talks about "Scheduled Castes" It says:
(1) The President may, with respect to any State [or Union territory], and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State [or Union territory, as the case may be].
(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
Article 342 of the Constitution of India
This provision talks about "Scheduled Tribes" It says:
(1) The President may, with respect to any State [or Union territory], and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be.
(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
Essentials of Articles 341 & 342 of the Indian Constitution
To ease it for you, these two articles outline the following key points:
Identification of Scheduled Castes: After consulting with the Governor of the concerned state, the President may specify castes or tribes to be recognised as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes in a particular state or union territory. This recognition is based on the social, educational, and economic backwardness these communities face.
Reservation Benefits: Once a caste or tribe is designated as a Scheduled Caste, members of that community are entitled to certain special provisions and benefits. For example, Reservations in educational institutions, government jobs, and legislative bodies.
Protection from Discrimination: Article 341 & 342 protects Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes from social discrimination and bars any form of untouchability against them
Revision of SC/ ST List: The President has the authority to modify or amend the list of SCs/ STs by adding or removing castes or tribes through a constitutional amendment. The power to include or exclude castes from the list is based on the recommendations of the concerned state or union territory governments.
Process of selection & announcement of SC/ST
Scheduled Castes (SC): The identification of communities as the President of India does Scheduled Castes based on recommendations from the respective state governments. The state governments conduct surveys, research, and consultations with experts and local communities to determine the communities subjected to social discrimination and untouchability for time immemorial, whereas;
Scheduled Tribes (ST): The identification of communities as Scheduled Tribes is also done by the President of India based on recommendations from the respective state governments. The state governments conduct surveys, research, and consultations to identify the indigenous or tribal communities with distinct cultural, linguistic, & social characteristics.
Let’s understand these in detail:
Legislation and Constitutional Provisions:
The Indian Constitution provides for the recognition and protection of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Article 341 of the Indian Constitution deals with Scheduled Castes, while Article 342 deals with Scheduled Tribes.
Based on the advice and recommendations of the Governor of a state or the central government, the President of India has the power to notify particular castes or tribes as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
State Government Recommendations:
The process begins with the state government recommending specific communities to be included in the SC or ST category.
The state government conducts research, surveys, and consultations with experts, community leaders, and representatives to identify communities historically facing social discrimination or belonging to indigenous or tribal groups.
The state government prepares a proposal with the necessary documentation and supporting evidence to include a community in the SC or ST list.
Verification and Evaluation:
The proposal from the state government is then evaluated and verified at the central level.
The Centre may consult several stakeholders, including experts, academics & representatives of the concerned communities, to assess the authenticity and validity of the recommendation.
The evaluation process ensures that the recommended communities meet the Constitution's criteria and objectives.
Once the verification and evaluation process is complete, a formal notification is issued by the President of India.
The President, acting on the advice of the central government, officially announces the inclusion of a particular caste or tribe in the SC or ST category.
The notification is published in the official gazette, which makes it legally binding and enforceable.
State of Punjab v. Dalbir Singh (2012): In this case, the Supreme Court of India discussed the scope and interpretation of Article 341. It emphasized that the President, under Article 341(1), has the authority to specify castes, races, or tribes that would be considered as Scheduled Castes.
State of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan (1951): This landmark case involved the interpretation of Article 15(4) of the Indian Constitution, which provides special provisions for advancing socially and educationally backward classes. The court held that reserving seats in educational institutions solely based on caste violates the right to equality.
Indra Sawhney v. Union of India (Mandal Commission case) (1992): This case addressed the reservation policy in India, including reservations for SCs, STs, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The court upheld the reservation policy but imposed certain limitations on its implementation, including the 50% cap on reservations.
V. Chinnaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2004)- The Bench, in this case, has disagreed with the formulation that classifying Scheduled Castes into groups amounts to ‘tinkering’ with the Presidential list. Under Articles 341 and 342, the President of India is empowered to draw up a list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively. The inclusion or exclusion of any caste, race, or tribe from the Presidential list can be done by Parliament through legislation. The President can notify the list, even if it is related to a specific state, after consultation with the state Governor. This case clarified that the categorization of SCs into subgroups is permissible and does not violate the provisions of the Constitution.
How are communities included in the SC/ ST List?
Once a community is identified and recommended by the state government, it is included in the list of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes through an official notification issued by the President of India.
The inclusion in the lists provides legal recognition and entitlement to several reservation benefits & welfare schemes designed for these two categories.
Article 342(4) establishes the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) as an advisory body to the President on matters related to the inclusion or exclusion of communities in the Scheduled Tribes list, welfare measures, and other issues affecting the Scheduled Tribes.
FAQs on Articles 341 & 342 Indian Constitution
Question: Which article of the Indian Constitution deals with the provisions for Scheduled Castes?
a. Article 342
b. Article 338
c. Article 341
d. Article 340
Question: Who has the power to notify a particular caste or community as Scheduled Castes in India?
a. Prime Minister of India
b. Chief Justice of India
c. President of India
d. Governor of the state
Question: Which criteria are considered for the inclusion of tribes or tribal communities in the Scheduled Tribes list?
a. Socio-economic background
b. Educational qualifications
c. Political representation
d. Distinct cultural and social characteristics
Question: Which constitutional body serves as an advisory body on matters related to Scheduled Castes?
a. National Commission for Scheduled Castes
b. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
c. National Human Rights Commission
d. National Commission for Backward Classes
Question: Who can modify, include, or exclude tribes or tribal communities from the Scheduled Tribes list?
a. Governor of the state
b. President of India
c. Prime Minister of India
d. Chief Justice of India
Answers: 1. C, 2. C, 3. D 4. A, 5. B