The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Union government for their response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking directions to fill up the vacancies in the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes [HM Singh vs Union of India and ors].

A Bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and JK Maheshwari issued notice in the PIL filed by lawyer HM Singh.

The petition filed through advocate Ranbir Singh Yadav, pointed out that the posts of vice-chairperson and two members have been vacant for over a year now, leaving the commission defunct given the lack of quorum.

“Every day [of the vacancy] would add to the agony of the Scheduled Tribes who are denied direct participation in the main stream”, the plea states, even as the government has not put in “any efforts to full-fill its duty cast by the constitution and [is] sleeping over the matter of appointment,” the petition said.

Further, the plea pointed out that the head office of the commission is in Delhi where a secretary and other staff has been have been appointed to facilitate its functioning. 

These posts have now been rendered useless and is a waste of public money, it was contended.

The public at large and scheduled tribes in particular are deprived of the benefits of the commission and there is no body hence to advise the Union government towards upliftment of tribals, it was submitted.

Their grievances have remained unheard since February 2021 when the vacancies arose, and annual reports have also not been filed since 2018, the plea pointed out.