The National Commission for Minorities (NCM), formed to protect the interests of minority communities, is left with no member. The last member of the panel, Dadi E Mistri, a representative of the Parsi community, demitted office today after completing his stipulated three-year term with the commission. Asked about this issue, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the process of filling the vacancies “is on”. Appointed during the previous Congress-led UPA-II government, six of the seven-member commission retired between September 9, 2015 and March 3 this year. Reacting to the panel being left with no member, Captain Praveen Davar, who demitted his membership to the panel on January 26, said there is no mechanism left to redress complaints of the minority communities.
Insisting the government to appoint new members “without delay”, Davar also asked Parliamentarians to put pressure on the BJP-led NDA government by raising the issue.
“The MPs are advised to exert pressure on the government as delay will add to the feeling of insecurity among minorities. Early action is the need of the hour. The later the worse,” he said.
Davar also asked the government to re-appoint former chairman of the commission Naseem Ahmad, in the panel to guide the new members and see to it that they “are not at sea” when they deal with complaints coming from across the country.
Ahmad retired last week.
“It takes a few months for the new members to understand the functioning of the commission. Hence, somebody who has worked in the panel or has experience should be re-appointed to guide the new team for better functioning of the panel,” Davar said.
The NCM was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis). The panel has seven members, including its chairperson and vice chairperson.
Jain community was notified as a minority community in January 2014.
Besides NCM, 15 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam, which are home to sizeable minority populace, have set up commissions at their respective levels.
Aggrieved persons belonging to the communities may approach the state minorities commissions concerned for redressal of their grievances or send their representations to the NCM after exhausting all avenues of remedies available.
The functions of the state commissions, inter-alia, are to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures.