Minorities – Act, Rights under Constitution, National Commission of Minorities & Ministry
- ‘Minority’ – The word nowhere used in the Indian Constituiton.
- But the term “minority” has neither been defined in the act nor the Constitution, and there is no widely accepted definition of the term globally.
- The term “minority”, in general context, is used to refer to non-Hindu communities in India, though there are various other implications of this term.
- Minorities can be classified according to their religion as well as language spoken, caste, tribal status and so forth.
National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992
- But the minority communities as recognised by the government of India under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 are
- Zoroastrians and
- Population and religion have been the factors which have decided the scope of the minority status in India.
Minority Rights under The Indian Constitution
Under the Constitution of India, there are various provisions to safeguard the rights of minorities.
Preamble of the Constitution declares India to be a secular state.
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National Commission for Minorities
- The National Commission for Minorities was established by the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to protect minority rights in the country.
- The commission consists of one chairperson and six members representing the six minor communities – Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains.
- Initially five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities by the Union Government. Further vide notification dated 27th January 2014, Jains were also notified as another minority community.
- Union Government constituted National Commission for Minorities, New Delhi and State Government constituted State Minorities Commissions in their respective State Capitals.
- These organisations are set-up to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities as provided in the Constitution of India and laws enacted by the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
- The commission also acts grievance redress forum for persons belonging to minority communities.
- The commission calls for reports from concerned authorities after taking cognizance of complaints.
- These reports are studied and then recommendations are made by the commission.
- These recommendations are not legally binding upon the authorities but State takes them seriously and implements them.
- This Commission functions as a civil court in the matters concerning summoning of witnesses, discovery and production of documents; it receives evidence of affidavits, requisitions public records and copies, issues commission for examination of witnesses and documents, and any other prescribed matter in manner same as the civil courts.
- Apart from these, the linguistic minorities can take up their grievances to the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities that was established in 1957 to comply Article 350 B of the Constitution. The office of Commissioner submits annual report to the government.
Composition of Commission
As per Section 3(2) of the NCM Act 1992, the Commission consists of:
- a Chairperson
- a Vice- Chairperson
- Five Members
i.e. total of 7 persons to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst
persons of eminence, ability and integrity.
Each Member holds office for a period of three years from the date of assumption of
The Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Members nominated by Central Government from time to time
Section 2 (c) of NCM Act, 1992 stipulates that ‘Minority’ for the purposes of the Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government. Therefore, all the functions of the Commission as laid down in Section 9(1) of the Act are related to the six notified communities.
Functions of National Commission for Minorities
As per Section 9(1) of the NCM Act, 1992, the Commission is required to perform following functions:-
(a) evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States;
(b) monitoring of the working of the safeguards for minorities provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
(c) making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments;
(d) looking into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and taking up such matters with the appropriate authorities;
(e) getting studies to be undertaken into the problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities and recommending measures for their removal;
(f) conducting studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of minorities;
(g) suggesting appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments;
(h) making periodical or special reports to the Central Government or any matter pertaining to minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them; and
(i) any other matter, which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
About Ministry of Minority Affairs
The Ministry of Minority Affairs was carved out of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and created on 29th January, 2006 to ensure a more focused approach towards issues relating to the notified minority communities namely Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain.
The mandate of the Ministry includes formulation of overall policy and planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities.
Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is the Hon’ble Union Cabinet Minister for Minority Affairs and Shri Kiran Rijiju is the Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs.
Shri Pramod Kumar Das is the Secretary of the Ministry. The Secretary is assisted by one Additional Secretary, Two Joint Secretaries and a Joint Secretary & Financial Adviser (additional charge).