Updated: March 9, 2021 4:33:57 am
The Delhi High Court on Monday said the vacancies of members in the National Commission for Minorities ought to be filled expeditiously and directed the Centre to submit a timeline regarding the appointments within one week. It also pulled up the Centre for filing an “unsatisfactory” reply in response to an order passed by it last month.
The court passed the order while hearing a petition seeking the filling up of the vacancies at the Commission. The petition stated that six out of seven posts in the Commission, including the position of Chairperson, are vacant at present. The Commission has representation from only the Muslim community now.
On February 15, the court had sought a status of the appointments from the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Describing the ministry’s reply as “unsatisfactory”, Justice Prathiba M Singh said, “How can you say this? There has to be… some steps given like these are steps we have taken and this is where it is. In effect it is saying that the provision does not tell us to do it in any timeline”.
The court also said the petitioner is absolutely right in saying that the purpose of the Commission is to ensure representation of all minorities. “The mere fact that the persons of eminence, ability and integrity have to be appointed, would not mean that the said appointments would not be expeditiously filled/made,” the order said.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma earlier submitted before the court that the vacancies have arisen during the pandemic but the Commission is functioning efficiently. The ministry in its reply also said that out of 1,279 cases listed before the Commission, 815 have been disposed of.
The petition filed last month by Abhay Ratan Bauddh, who belongs to the Buddhist community, has contended that the government is deliberately not filling the vacant posts and thus violating the provisions of the law. The Commission is currently functioning only with its Vice-Chairperson.
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