By MM News,
New Delhi: The National Minorities Commission through established in 1978, has not made much impact on the status of religious minorities. It covers all the major minorities namely the Muslims, the Sikhs and the Christians. In addition all the smaller groups, such as the Buddhists and of late the Jains, and the Parsis who are just a few thousands, also come under its purview. The annual reports of the Commission have been submitted but never discussed in the Parliament. The Commission has a substantial budget but has offered very little information to the country or to the Government on the status of the minorities’ said Mr. Syed Shahabuddin, ex MP and former President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat in a press statement.
The main handicap of the Commission is its composition. It has one member from each of the large minorities. Now the number will rise to seven.
It is time to review the composition, performance and functioning of the Commission.
The Commission has more or less remained directionless because it includes all minorities: fromMuslims who form more than 15% of the national population right down to the Parsis who are just a few thousands. Due to this, all minorities are treated on par despite being very different in terms of socio-economic status or community-specific problems. Secondly, while its final Chairman was a former Chief Justice and all other national Commissions have always been headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court,there has not been enough representation from qualified Muslim community members. There is no dearth of such persons for serving as members, even among the Muslims. Apart from the Judges, some of the Minorities like Parsis have been eminent members of the Bar for serving as members. It is strongly suggested that in order to make the National Commission for Minorities more effective its composition may be reviewed by an amendment to the Act to determine its precise functions. It is proposed that:
- The Commission should have three Muslims, one Sikh and one Christian member for a full term. In addition, twomembers should be taken from for one of the smaller minorities namely Buddhists, the Jains and the Parsis, by rotation. The members, should, to the extent possible be former Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court Chief Justices.
- The Commission must hold a statutory monthly meeting to consider the political, economic, social and educational status of the minorities and the developments in the country important to their welfare.
- The Commission should also hold a meeting with the leaders of the major minority communities at least once every three monthsand once a year, a joint meeting with the leaders of other religious minorities should be held.
- The Commission must visit all sites of developments significant to minorities in the country, including situations of communal violence or discrimination, and not only submit a report to the nation but place its recommendations before the Central and the State Governments concerned for consideration.
- In addition the Commission should also visit important educational or economic institutions and submit a report on the impact of the minority welfare programmes to the Government.
- The Annual Report of the Commission should not only be submitted to the Parliament but be discussed in detail and its recommendations should be considered by the Central and State Governments, apart from the leaders of the communities.
- The Commission should remain in regular touch with the prominent members of the communities in various fields and institute National Awards to individual members of the community for eminence in the welfare of a minority or minorities as a whole.
- It is felt that this reorganization will not only make it effective but create better relations between the National and State Governments on one hand and the minorities concerned.
It is suggested that a religious community which form a majority in any State not be regarded as a minority unless a particular development comes to the notice of the Minorities Commission such as incident or a clash between a community and the Government.