The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is set to write to the government, seeking Constitutional status so that it can do its job of protecting the rights of minorities better. “We are going to write to the government to give us Constitutional status to deal with the problems. Officers don’t attend hearings and we are not able to safeguard minorities the way we want. The panel should get rights like commissions dealing with issues relating to SCs and STs,” NCM chairman Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi said. He said the decision to request the government to take steps in this direction was taken during the panel’s meeting last week.
Only the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes have Constitutional status till now, which gives them powers to act against officials. In its present form, NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned for action against officials. A move to grant Constitutional status to the NCM will mean the panel can penalise or suspend an officer for two days or send them to jail depending on the nature of their dereliction in protecting rights of minorities.
In 2017-18, NCM received 1,498 complaints and could dispose of 1,263. Rizvi attributed pendency in disposing cases to officials not attending hearings “as there is no fear among them for the Commission”. He said he will also write to chief secretaries of states next week to take action against officials who do not attend hearings.