Table of Contents
National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
In diverse societies, the recognition and protection of minority rights are essential for upholding the principles of democracy, human rights, and social harmony. Minority groups often face unique challenges that require specific attention to ensure their full integration, participation, and equal opportunities. In many countries, including India, the establishment of a National Commission for Minorities (NCM) serves as a critical mechanism to safeguard the interests and well-being of these marginalized communities.
Evolution of the National Commission for Minorities in India
In 1978, the idea of establishing the Minorities Commission (MC) was initially conceived within a Ministry of Home Affairs Resolution. In 1984, the MC underwent a significant change when it was separated from the Ministry of Home Affairs and instead placed under the newly formed Ministry of Welfare. However, it’s worth noting that in 1988, linguistic minorities were excluded from the Commission’s jurisdiction.
A pivotal moment occurred in 1992 with the passage of the NCM Act, which transformed the MC into a statutory body. This change also led to the renaming of the organization, now known as the National Commission for Minorities (NCM). The year 1993 marked a historic milestone as the first Statutory National Commission was established. This move recognized and officially designated five religious communities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) – as minority communities. Further expansion occurred in 2014 when Jains were also officially recognized and designated as a minority community.
National Commission For Minorities
|National Commission For Minorities(NCM)||Statutory Body|
|Established on||17th May 1993|
|Statutory Provision||National Commission For Minorities Act, of 1992|
|Jurisdiction||Whole of India including J&K & Ladakh|
|Related Ministry||Under the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India|
At least five Members including the Chairperson should be from amongst the minority communities.
|First chairperson||Justice Mohd. Sardar Ali Khan (05.07.1993- 04.07.1996) after becoming a Statutory body|
|Tenure||Three years (Both Chairperson and Members)|
|Number of Notified Religious Minorities||6 It includes Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jain.|
|Minorities Rights Day||18th December (annually)|
Necessity of National Commission for Minorities
The necessity for such commissions arises from the clear principles outlined in the Constitution, which safeguard the rights of individuals as well as various groups and minorities. The strength of a diverse democracy hinges upon these logical and resilient institutions that not only protect these rights but also translate abstract ideals into practical reality.
The effectiveness of organizations like NCM, NCSC, NCST, or NCBC plays a pivotal role in gauging the vitality of a democracy. These structures enable a constructive assessment of the country’s status, providing a platform to express grievances. This process ultimately fortifies the democratic system while empowering individuals to exercise their rights to the fullest extent.
Constitutional provisions for minorities in India
Indian Constitution in detail discusses about the Constitutional Provision for the Minorities in India. All the Articles that strengthened the minorities sections in India are mentioned below:
Constitutional provisions for minorities in India
|Article 347||Special provision relating to the language spoken by a section of the population of any State.|
|Article 350||Provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities and his duties.|
|Article 350 A||Provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at the primary stage.|
National Commission For Minorities Composition, Tenure and Removal
Check the National Commission For Minorities Composition, Tenure and Removal in the table below:
|National Commission For Minorities Composition, Tenure and Removal|
|Composition||The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) comprises a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and five members, all of whom must belong to minority communities. Additionally, the Central Government has the responsibility to nominate a total of seven individuals who demonstrate eminence, ability, and integrity.|
|Tenure||Each member of the NCM serves a term of three years, commencing from the date they assume office.|
|Removal||The Central Government holds the authority to issue an order for the removal of the Chairperson or any other Member under the following circumstances:
National Commission For Minorities Functions
- Assessment of Minority Development: Evaluating the progress of minority development at both the Union and State levels to ensure their socio-economic well-being.
- Safeguard Monitoring: Keeping a close watch on the functioning of safeguards for minorities as enshrined in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and State legislatures.
- Implementation Oversight: Ensuring the effective implementation of the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for Minority Welfare and verifying the functioning of programs designed for minority communities.
- Recommendations: Making recommendations to the central and state governments on how to better implement safeguards for the protection of minority interests.
- Complaint Handling: Addressing specific complaints related to the deprivation of minority rights and safeguards, and taking these matters up with the relevant authorities.
- Conflict Investigation: Investigating incidents of communal conflict and riots, such as the 2011 Bharatpur communal riots and the 2012 Bodo-Muslim clashes in Assam, and submitting findings to the government.
- Minorities Rights Day: Observing Minorities Rights Day every year on December 18th, commemorating the adoption of the “Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities” by the United Nations in 1992.
National Commission For Minorities Powers
- Compelling the presence of any individual, regardless of their location within India, and administering their testimony under oath.
- Mandating the disclosure and submission of any pertinent document.
- Accepting evidence in the form of affidavits.
- Requesting any public record or its duplicates from any judicial or administrative establishment.
- Authorizing commissions for the investigation of witnesses and documents.
Minorities in India
|The NCM Act characterizes a minority as a “community officially designated as such by the Central government.” In accordance with this, the Government of India has identified six religions—Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis (Zoroastrians), and Jains—as religious minorities within the country.
Additionally, the National Commission for Minority Education Institutions (NCMEI) Act of 2004 extends minority status to educational institutions based on the same six religious communities identified by the government.
It’s noteworthy that while the Indian Constitution does not explicitly define the term “minority,” it does acknowledge the existence of religious and linguistic minorities within the country.
National Commission For Minorities Challenges and limitations
- Human Resource Shortages: The NCM has experienced inconsistency in staffing and appointments of key officials over the years, leading to potential inefficiencies in its operations.
- State-Level Minority Commissions: The integration and collaboration between state-level Minority Commissions and the National Minorities Commission have been insufficient. This lack of coordination hampers effective case processing and resolution.
- Limited Technological Utilization: While the NCM has implemented a complaint monitoring system, it remains relatively basic and does not fully enable an end-to-end complaint-handling process.
- Financial Planning and Expenditure Challenges: A significant portion of the allocated budget for the Commission is not utilized for research activities. Financial constraints and the absence of allocated funds for research on minority-related issues hinder the Commission’s ability to fulfill its mandate effectively.
- Legal and Constitutional Authority: The NCM lacks substantial legal authority to execute its constitutional mandate. Decisions made by the Commission can be overturned by District and High courts, diminishing its influence and effectiveness in addressing minority concerns.
National Commission For Minorities Recommendations
Enhancing Performance Assessment
- Implement specific performance criteria for member evaluation.
- Promote accountability within the NCM.
Establishing Pendency Targets
- Define baseline targets for reducing pending cases.
- Improve efficiency in case management.
Introducing Feedback Mechanisms
- Develop Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey.
- Allow parties to provide anonymous feedback on the appeal process.
- Enhance transparency and continuous improvement.
Investing in Technological Advancements
- Allocate resources for technology upgrades.
- Implement “e-hearing” system for remote participation in hearings.
- Improve efficiency and reduce the need for physical presence.
Empowering State Minorities Commissions
- Strengthen existing State Commissions.
- Establish new state-level commissions.
- Reduce case pendency rates and enhance overall effectiveness of NCM.