[Answered] Discuss the role and function of National Commission for Minorities in India. Do you think it needs more power to ensure social justice to Indian Minorities?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Role and function of NCM. Limitations of NCM.
Conclusion. Way forward.

For minorities, Constitution of India has envisaged a number of rights and safeguards in Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State policy and also the Fundamental Duties. National Commission for Minorities (NCM) was established under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 in order to provide social justice to various minorities in India.

Role and function of National Commission for Minorities: It is a forum for appeal, set up to safeguard the rights and interests of India’s minority communities.The NCM Act lists 9 functions of the Commission:

  1. To evaluate the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and states.
  2. To monitor the working of safeguards provided in the Constitution and in union and state laws.
  3. To make recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of minority interests.
  4. To look into, and take up, specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities.
  5. To get problems of discrimination against minorities studied, and recommend ways to remove them.
  6. To conduct studies, research, analysis on socioeconomic and educational development of minorities.
  7. To suggest appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by central or state governments.
  8. To make periodic or special reports to the Centre on any matter concerning minorities; especially their difficulties.
  9. To take up any other matter that may be referred to it by the central government.

Issues and Limited powers of National Commission for Minorities:

  • The appointment to commission lacks transparency. There’s no prescribed selection process for making appointments with arbitrarily picking up of names from a list suggested by the nodal ministry.
  • NCM is a statutory body under National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. It lack powers:
    • To inquire, suo moto, or on a representation presented to it by a member of any of the notified minority communities regarding any atrocities.
    • To investigate and use the services of any investigation agency of the central government or any state government.
    • To intervene in any proceeding including related to violation of constitutional safeguards of the minorities pending before a court with the approval of such court.
    • To visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the state government, where members of notified minority communities are detained or lodged.
  • Functioning of NCM and also the operations of state minority commissions are dependent on central and state governments. Its entire work is dependent upon the goodwill of government.
  • Growing number of commissions have overlapping mandate, thereby reducing the scope of NCM. For example, the formation of new Commission on Linguistic Minorities cut into the work of NCM, which was restricted to only religious minorities.

What required is to accord powers to NCM so that it can look into the matters related to its work area freely. NCM should be given a constitutional status and should be allowed to inquire into specific complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities, and to investigate and monitor all matters regarding safeguards provided for minorities under the Constitution or under any law.

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