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SC/ST panel cannot decide disputes, says Karnataka HC

25th December, 2020 Environment

Context: The State Commission for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) is not empowered in law to adjudicate and decide disputes between the parties and pronounce its orders either interim or final as it is neither a tribunal nor a court, the High Court of Karnataka said.

  • The commission cannot be construed to be a tribunal or a forum discharging the functions of a judicial character or court.
  • The powers bestowed upon the commission by the Constitution are procedural powers of the civil court for the purpose of investigating and enquiring into matters and are limited only for that purpose.
  • The procedure that is conferred under Article 338 cannot be confused to be conferring a substantive power akin to that of a civil court or a tribunal which are adjudicating bodies of disputes of citizens
  • Article 338 of the Constitution itself does not entrust the commission with the power to take up the role of a court or an adjudicatory tribunal and determine the rights of parties inter se.
  • Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while setting aside a 2016 direction of the commission asking the government to promote to a government employee in a dispute over seniority and date of promotion between two employees belonging to the Scheduled Caste.