By TwoCircles.net news desk,
Starting today TwoCircles.net is publishing Misra Commission report.
The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) also known as Ranganath Misra Commission after its chairman Justice Ranganath Misra was constituted in October 2004 but the Commission could not begin until March 2005.
It was to submit its report within six months but its terms was periodically extended until May 15th, 2007. Initially it was given three terms of references, a fourth one was added later.
Terms of References:
To suggest criteria for identification of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities.
To recommend measures for welfare of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities, including reservation in education and government employment.
To suggest the necessary constitutional, legal and administrative modalities required for the implementation of its recommendations.
To give its recommendations on the issues raised in WPs 180/04 and 94/05 filed in the Supreme Court and in certain High Courts relating to para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 in the context of ceiling of 50 percent on reservations as also the modalities of inclusion in the list of Scheduled Castes.
Justice Ranganath Misra: Former Chief Justice of India & Ex-Chairman, National Human Rights Commission. (Chairman)
Professor Dr. Tahir Mahmood: Former Chairman, National Commission for Minorities & Ex-Dean, Faculty of Law, Delhi University.
Dr. Anil Wilson: Principal, St. Stephan’s College, Delhi.
Dr. Mohinder Singh: Director, National Institute of Punjab Studies, Delhi.
Mrs. Asha Das: Member-Secretary.
Final report was submitted to the government in May 2007. TwoCircles.net releases excerpts from this report which has recommended specific steps for the benefits of the Muslims who are lagging behind in socio-economic front. Since UPA has failed to make public this important report and Congress in its manifesto pushed the question of reservation to Muslims to building consensus, we are publishing important points of the report so that a debate can start towards a consensus.
Chapter 1 of the report is the introduction of the Commission, its formation, terms of references and the procedure adopted by the Commission. Text reproduced below and in future postings are exactly as they appear in the report unless specifically mentioned. We are publishing the excerpts and not the full report.
Chapter 2: Constitutional and legislative provisions regarding the Minorities
Who are the Minorities?
The Constitution of India uses the word ‘minority’ or its plural form in some Articles- 29 to 30 and 350A to 350B- but does not define it anywhere. Article 29 speaks of “any sections of citizens… having a distinct language, script or culture.” Article 30 speaks specifically of two categories of minorities- religious and linguistic.
A special Sub-Committee on the Protection of Minority Rights appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1946 defined the ‘minority’ as those “non-dominant groups in a population which possess a wish to preserve stable ethnic, religious and linguistic traditions or characteristics markedly different from those of the rest of populations.”
All those who profess a religion other than Hindu are considered minorities since over 80 percent population of the country professes Hindu religion. At the national level, Muslims are the largest minority.
As regards linguistic minorities, there is no majority at the national level and the minority status is to be essentially decided at the State/Union Territory level.
The Muslims are the majority in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. In the States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, Christians constitute the majority. Sikhs are the majority community in the State of Punjab.
The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 says that “Minority for the purpose of the Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government” – Section 2(7). Acting under this provision on 23-10-1993, the Central Government notified the Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi (Zoroastrian) communities to be regarded as “minorities” for the purpose of this Act.
The Supreme Court in TMA Pai Foundation & Ors vrs State of Karnataka and Ors (2002) has held that for the purpose of Article 30 a minority, whether linguistic or religious, is determinable with reference to a State and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole. Incidentally, ‘Scheduled Castes’ and ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are also to be identified at the State/UT level.
The State Minorities Commission Acts usually empower the local governments to notify the minorities.
In several States (e.g. Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, U.P. and Uttarakhand), Jains have been recognized as a minority. The Jain Community approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Central Government for a similar recognition at the national level and their demand was supported by the National Commission for Minorities.