The functions, duties and power of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes have been laid down in clauses(5), (8) and (9) of the Article 338A of the Constitution, as amended by Constitution [Eighty-ninth Amendment] Act, 2003. Clause(5) states that it shall be the duty of the Commission:
- to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes under this Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
- to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes.
- to participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
- to present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
- to make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.
- to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule, specify.
Clause (8) states that the: Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to in sub-clause (a) or inquiring into any complaint referred to in sub-clause (b) of clause (5), have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit and in particular in respect of the following matters, namely:-summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
- requiring the discovery and production of any documents; receiving evidence on affidavits.
- requestioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
- issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
- any other matter which the President may by rule, determine.
Clause (9) provides that the Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Tribes.