It is a forum for appeal, set up to safeguard the rights and interests of India’s minority. Government has appointed Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi as the Chairman of National Commission for Minorities (NCM). Apart from him 5 other members were appointed to NCM.

Type of body

Unlike the National Commission for SCs and for STs, it is not a constitutional body. It was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1992. The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Bill, 2004, proposed to establish a new Commission, with constitutional status. But due to debate over who is a ‘minority’, the Bill lapsed.

What is the composition of the commission?

The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and five Members to be nominated by the Central Government.

All members shall be from amongst the minority communities.

What are its functions?

The NCM Act lists 9 functions of the Commission:

a)      to evaluate the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and states;

b)      to monitor the working of safeguards provided in the Constitution and in union and state laws;

c)       to make recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of minority interests;

d)      to look into, and take up, specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities;

e)      to get problems of discrimination against minorities studied, and recommend ways to remove them;

f)       to conduct studies, research, analysis on socioeconomic and educational development of minorities;

g)      to suggest appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by central or state governments;

h)      to make periodic or special reports to the Centre on any matter concerning minorities; especially their difficulties;

i)        to take up any other matter which may be referred to it by the central government.

What are its powers?

The Commission has the following powers:

a)      Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.

b)      Requiring the discovery and production of any document.

c)       Receiving evidence on affidavit.

d)      Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.

e)      Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.

Is it a powerful body?

  •    Constitutional bodies have greater autonomy, they can take up and inquire into many matters suo motu, and have powers of a civil court. Thus NCM lacks these powers.
  • Why is NCM still relevant?   While the NCM’s recommendations are often ignored, the Centre is required to present its reports, along with an action taken report, to Parliament.
  •   In cases involving states, the NCM is obliged to advise or act in some way.
  •    Also in the current atmosphere of insecurity among many sections of the minority population, NCM provides a platform for articulation of their grievances.