Polity : National Commision for Minorities

  • Minorities Commission of India was established in 1978 under the Ministry of Home Affairs and in 1984 it was detached from there and placed under the newly created Ministry of Welfare. 
  • With the enactment of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, the Minorities Commission became a statutory body and renamed as National Commission for Minorities. The first Statutory National Commission was set up on 17th May 1993. Five religious communities viz; the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities. As per the 2001 Census, these five religious minority communities constitute 18.42% of the country’s population.
  • Though the Constitution of India does not define the word ‘Minority’ and only refers to ‘Minorities’ and speaks of those ‘based on religion or language’, the rights of the minorities have been spelt out in the Constitution in detail. The Constitution provides two sets of rights of minorities which can be placed in ‘common domain’ and ‘separate domain’.
  •  The rights which fall in the ‘common domain’ are those which are applicable to all the citizens of our country. The rights which fall in the ‘separate domain’ are those which are applicable to the minorities only and these are reserved to protect their identity. In common domain we have the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Fundamental Duties, and the Fundamental Rights,which are common to all citizens of India.
The Minority Rights provided in the Constitution which fall in the category of ‘Separate Domain’ are as under:-
  • Right of ‘any section of the citizens’ to ‘conserve’ its ‘distinct language, script or culture’; [Article 29(1)] 
  • Restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, ‘on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them’; [Article 29(2)]
  • Right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice;[Article 30(1)]
  • Freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State;[Article30(2)]
  • Special provision relating to the language spoken by a section of the population of any State;[Article 347]
  • Provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage;[Article 350 A]
  • Provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities and his duties; and [Article 350 B]
  • Sikh community’s right of ‘wearing and carrying of kirpans; [Explanation 1 below Article 25] 
Functions of NCM - by NCM Act of 1992
  • Evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States;
  • Monitoring of the working of the safeguards for minorities provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
  • Making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments;
  • Looking into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and taking up such matters with the appropriate authorities;
  • Getting studies to be undertaken into the problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities and recommending measures for their removal;
  • Conducting studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio -economic and educational development of minorities;
  • Suggesting appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments;
  • Making periodical or special reports to the Central Government or any matter pertaining to minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them; and
  • Any other matter, which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
Find the Answer
1. The Constitution of India recognises (CSE -1999)
A. Only religious minorities
B. Only linguistic minorities
C. Religious and linguistic minorities
D. Religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities