National and state minority commission
Constitution of India doesn’t define the word ‘Minority’ but has used the word minorities considering two attributes religion or language of a person. For minorities Constitution of India has envisaged a number of rights and safeguards. To provide enough equality and to dwindled the discrimination, makers have spelt out various things in Fundamental Rights (PartIII); Directive Principles of State policy (Part IV) and also the Fundamental Duties (Part IV-A). However, with rising right and rising wedge between right and left and also the ephemeral political aspirations of various political parties have diluted the discrimination safeguards.
The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India . Original notification of 1993 was for Five religious communities Sikhs, Buddhists,Parsis,Christians and Muslims.
Functions and Powers
- Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
- Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
- Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
- Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
- Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
- Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
- Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
- Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
- Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
The Commission has the following powers:
- 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 document.
- Receiving evidence on affidavit.
- Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
- Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
State minority commission
The recognition of any community as a religious minority means that the States should have a State level Commission to ensure that the rights and privileges allowed to the minorities under law are not denied to them. In a situation of difficulty a member of the minority community can invoke the law that safeguards his interests. In pursuance of this objective, each State in the Union including Union Territories are required to set up respective Minority Commission to cater to the needs and interests of the minority communities in the concerned states. However, the Union Minister for Minorities, while replying to a question in the Parliament disclosed that twelve States, including four ruled by BJP and its allies, and six Union Territories (UTs) have not set up Minorities Commissions at their respective levels. Incidentally, Jammu and Kashmir also figures in the list of twelve States with no Minority Commission.
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