In yet another decision taken with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Union Cabinet on Thursday passed a proposal of the Ministry of Minority Affairs for constitution of an Equal Opportunities Commission.
The EOC was one of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee whose report was tabled in Parliament in 2006.
The commission will address the grievances of people from the minority communities if they feel discriminated against by government agencies. However, it will have no jurisdiction over private agencies. The minority ministry had originally proposed an EOC that would be accessible to all — as recommended by the Sachar Committee — but the Group of Ministers decided that it should cater exclusively to minorities.
The proposed commission will be a statutory institution like the NCM and its role too will be advisory in nature. While it will be able to look into complaints against all government departments, it will not have any powers to impose penalties. The three-member body will be headed by a retired judge of the High Court. The Sachar Committee had held that mechanisms like the National Commission for Minorities and the National Human Rights Commission cannot look into day-to-day complaints against “non-state” agencies, hence the need for an EOC.