National Commission for Minorities: A year of inaction

By Kashif-ul-Huda,

Minorities Commission as a non-statutory body was set up in 1978. In the days following Babri Masjid demolition it was made a statutory body and in 1993 it came to be called National Commission for Minorities (NCM). Its main object is to safeguard the interest of minorities but its power is even less than the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and National Human Rights Commission. Lacking any effective tool it is merely a spectator that can make some noise but not be part of the game.

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Annual Conference of the State Minorities Commission is organized on Wednesday March 31st in Delhi, the last one held on January 20th, 2009 offered 17 recommendations but a year later the “Action Taken Report” on these recommendations suggest anything but action. Read on:


1. State Minorities Commissions (SMCs) should be set up in the States where they do not exist. Uniformity in power and organization for all SMCs.

18 states and UTs responded. Declined Punjab, Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Daman & Diu. Madhya Pradesh sees no need for a change of status for this state minority commission. Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Puducherry, Tripura, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala are considering the proposal.

2. Proposal for IGNOU to setup study centres in Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs).

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is ready to set up study centers provided states bear the cost of establishment of these centres and recurring expenses. Only Madhya Pradesh is talking to IGNOU regarding this.

3. Constitutional status to the NCM pending since 2004.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Bill 2004, and the NCM (Repeal) Bill was to be presented in February 2009 but with the dissolution of 14th Lok Sabha the process of notification has to start afresh and no action has been taken in this regard in 15th Lok Sabha.

4. Communal Violence Bill.

No information available whether amendments suggested by NCM became part of the Bill.

5. Sachar recommendations should be implemented fully in letter and spirit.

Only Tripura instructed various departments to take up these recommendations.

6. Enanched compensation for 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims not paid in many cases.

Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttaarnchal was asked to settle their pending cases. Only four states responded. No cases pending in Bihar, HP, MP but 701 cases pending in UP.

7. Need to look into MCD identification criteria.

Mewat was added as an MCD but no change in criteria was suggested.

8. State Minorities Commissions should be given power to implement, monitor and review PM’s new 15 Point Programme.

Eight states responded to this recommendation but none changed their mind about it only in Karnataka that SMC is monitoring the programme.

9. Independent, permanent and centralized institutional mechanism to monitor and evaluate the implementation of govt. schemes.

Only Tripura has setup state level and district level committees for monitoring. Finance Ministry referred the matter to Minority Affairs which did not reply even after repeated reminders. No other state responded to this important recommendation.

10. Programme awareness campaigns in local languages especially Urdu.

MP published the booklet of schemes but does not mention in which language. Delhi is satisfied in publishing advertisements of programmes in Urdu and Punjabi newspapers. Tripura published booklets containing Central and State schemes in Bengali and English.
No other state responded.

11. Amendment of the Bodh Gaya Temple Act so that only Budhists are in the management committee.

NCM sought legal opinion and forwarded the recommendation to Bihar.

12. Protection and perseveration of old religious monuments by ASI.

ASI suggested that namaz should be allowed in mosques under ASI control. No response from ASI.

13. Minorities should be represented in selection committees for public appointments.

Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir,
Karnataka, Manipur, Punjab and West Bengal have not responded to this recommendation.

Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, MP, Manipur, Tamil Nadu are the only states that clearly say that they have minorities among is selection committee for the state public service commissions.

Goa clearly states that it has no representation of minorities in its Public Service Commission. Gujarat, Kerala, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and UP say that their selection boards are all according to laws without clearly saying if they have any minority member in their PSCs. Tripura requested all departments including police to include minorities in their selection boards.

UPSC says that it has created an additional column to gather candidates’ religion during application process.

14. Dalit Christians and Muslims should be given reservation on part with SCs.

No response from the government which is a long overdue recommendation of NCM, first made in 1995.

15. Ensure access to education and delivery of quality education.

Reduced to Madrasa Modernization and scholarship scheme. Most of the states did no respond.

16. Simplified process to issue minority status certificate to educational institutions.

Only MP issued the directive in 2007.

17. Easy access to credit flows to minorities.

Directives issued by Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of India to at least 15% lending to minorities but no information about the success of this initiative.