Constitutional status for Minority Commission soon

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is all set to get more teeth with its status soon to be changed from a statutory body to a constitutional one. According to NCM chairperson Mohammad Hamid Ansari, a bill granting constitutional status to the body would be tabled in the monsoon session of parliament. “This will be a constitution amendment bill,” Ansari said. “Earlier, the bill was to be introduced in the budget session of parliament but the government got preoccupied with some other business. So it will now be introduced in the monsoon session,” added Ansari. The budget session of parliament ended May 23. Ansari said the NCM had seen the draft of the bill, but he would not like to comment on its contents. “The demand for granting constitutional status to this commission has been pending for quite some time. We hope that once the NCM becomes a constitutional body, its word will carry much more weight,” said Ansari. “Constitutional status for the NCM would give it powers to pass verdicts. At present, being a statutory body, it is only empowered to give recommendations,” explained a senior NCM official. The NCM was set up in 1978 by a government order. It was granted statutory status in 1992 by legislation enacted by parliament. It currently has powers of a civil court. Among all the commissions created through parliamentary enactments, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is the only panel that has constitutional status.

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