National Commission for Minorities

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    Recently, Former IPS officer Iqbal Singh Lalpura, who joined BJP in 2012, has been chosen as chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.

    National Commission for Minorities(NCM)

    Background:  In 1978, the setting up of the Minorities Commission (MC) was envisaged in the Ministry of Home Affairs Resolution.

    • In 1984, the MC was detached from the Ministry of Home Affairs and placed under the newly created Ministry of Welfare, which excluded linguistic minorities from the Commission’s jurisdiction in 1988.
    • In 1992, with the enactment of the NCM Act, 1992, the MC became a statutory body and was renamed as the NCM.
      • The first National Commission for Minorities with a statutory status was formed in 1993.
    • Composition of the commission: The commission consists of seven members which include a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson along with five other members.
      • All members of the commission must belong to minority communities enlisted as minorities, and from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity.
      • Every member of the Commission holds office for a period of three years.

    Minority community in India

    • The central government notifies the status of minorities to a religion in India.
    • Constitution has not defined the term minority neither laid down procedures to notify a community or religion as a minority community
      • However, article 29 recognizes religious and linguistic minorities while article 30 provides the right to establish and administer educational institutions maintained by them.
    • Initially five religions viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minorities by the Union government in 1993.
      • After that, Jain was notified as a minority community in 2014.
    • Functions of the commission:
      • It evaluates the progress of the development of minorities across the country.
      •  It monitors the working of the safeguards for minorities provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
      • It looks into any complaint which is brought by anyone to it and takes suo-motto cognizance of any incident or act committed against minorities.
      • It ensures that the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities is implemented and the programmes for minority communities are actually functioning.
      • It conducts  studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to the socio-economic and educational development of minorities;

    Constitutional Provision related to Minorities

    • The Constitution of India does not specify the term  ‘minorities’, however, the Constitution recognizes only religious and linguistic minorities.
    • Article 29 and Article 30 guarantee certain rights to the minorities.
      • Article 29 of the Indian Constitution protects the interests of the minorities by making a provision that any citizen/section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. 
        • It mandates that no discrimination would be done on the ground of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
      • Article 30 of the Indian Constitution states the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
        • It says: “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
      • Article 350 B
        • There shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by the President.
        • It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution and report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct. 
        • The President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned.

    Source: PIB