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National Commission for Minorities Act: An Overview
India is the country of many socio-religious groups, and the Indian Constitution protects everyone’s interests on a personal level. However, for such religious groups, whose population is comparatively much smaller, the Constitution has made a separate provision. And, under such provision, parliament has legislated the National Commission for Minorities Act in the year 1992.
What does National Commission for Minorities Act Define?
In the year 1978, a resolution was passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a Minorities Commission. In the year 1984, the Commission was put within the purview of the Ministry of Welfare. In 1992, the National Commission for Minorities Act was legislated. The Act received the assent of the President on May 17th, 1992, and came into force on May 17th, 1993. The Minorities Commission became a statutory body and was renamed as the National Minorities Commission.
Consisting of total five chapters and 16 sections, initially, five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities. Further vide notification dated 27th January 2014, Jains were also notified as another minority community.
The Constitution of India has the concept of social justice implicit in it. It provides various rights and safeguards to minority communities in order to ensure their upliftment, growth, and protection. Furthermore, there are several provisions in the Constitution including Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, etc. exclusively protects the rights of minorities. Moreover, the Act fulfils the constitutional mandate by creating this authority.
Meaning of Minorities
As defined under Section 2(c) of the Act "minority" as a community defined by the Central Government. The Central Government has declared six religious communities as religious minorities, namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jain.
Composition of National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
The Central Government will establish a body for minorities. The NCM will be led by a Chairperson, assisted by a Vice-Chairperson, and comprised of five members. The Central Government will nominate the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and members from among people of eminence, ability, and integrity. Furthermore, the five members and the chairperson must come from minority communities.
As per Section 4 of the Act, the Chairperson and all other members shall hold office for a term of three years. All members may give their resignation to the Central Government. Also, the Central Government has the power to remove a person from office on the grounds mentioned under Section 4.
Meetings and Business of NCM
The commissions will convene at a time and location determined by the chairperson. The Commission shall have its own procedure. All orders and decisions of the NCM are required to be authenticated by the Secretary.
Functions of NCM
Section 9 of the Act defines the following functions that Commission has to exercise −
Evaluating the progress of the development of minorities in the country.
Monitoring the working of the safeguards of the Constitution and other laws.
Making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards and other laws.
Investigating complaints of violations of minorities' rights and safeguards
Causing studies to be conducted to look into problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
Suggesting appropriate measures in respect of any minority.
Making periodical reports to the government on matters relating to minorities.
Powers of NCM
Section 9 also gives powers to the Commission to be exercised while performing the functions given to it under the Act. The Commission has all the powers of a civil court trying a suit. These powers are −
Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person.
Requiring the discovery and production of any document.
Receiving evidence on affidavits.
Requisitioning any public record from any court or office.
Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents
Section 10 empowers the Central Government to pay the Commission by way of grants such sums of money as it thinks fit. The Commission is required under Section 12 to prepare an annual report for each financial year, giving a full account of the activities in that year to the Central Government. This report shall be laid before Parliament by the Central Government as per Section 13.
The National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992 is one of the legislations that parliament made and enacted to substantially safeguard the interests of minorities, which are enshrined in the Indian Constitution. As per the constitutional provisions, the Act also gives certain privileges to minority groups for their development.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What does the National Commission for Minorities do?
Ans: Primarily, the NCM monitors and evaluates the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States. And, also ensure their safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament.
Q2. Who are the members of National Minority Commission?
Ans: The Commission is consisting of one Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and five other members. Central Government appoints them from amongst persons of eminence, ability, and integrity.
Q3. What are the major beneficial activities run by the NMC?
Ans: Some of the activities those are run by NMC are −
PM VIKAS (Virasat ka Samvardhan).
Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn).
USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development).
Concessional credit through National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC).
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