New Delhi: More than 40 years after the National Commission for Minorities was set up by the Centre in 1978, and 25 years after it became a statutory body in 1992, the panel still does not enjoy constitutional status as the government is sitting over the proposed legislation seeking to grant it the coveted status, even though it had been drafted way back in 2013.
This impasse continues despite the fact that there has been a steady rise of 21 per cent in frequency of communal violence in the country between 2011 and 2016.
Highly-placed sources indicated that the Union minority affairs ministry may soon send the bill for according constitutional status to the National Commission for Minorities for Cabinet clearance.
Official sources further are of the view that the bill is likely to be expedited by the ministry, though it is being felt within legislative circles that this should have been done earlier as the proposed legislation had been prepared in 2013 and yet there had been no movement on it.
According to data collated by the ministry of home affairs, from 580 incidents of communal violence reported in 2011, the figure went up to 703 in 2016, even touching a high of 823 in 2013. In 2012, incidents of communal violence reported in the country were 640, while in 2014 these were 644 and witnessed a steep rise in 2015, reaching 751.
In such a scenario, there is an urgent need for the commission to be more empowered and take cognisance of such incidents, especially like the Kasganj violence which was reported from Uttar Pradesh earlier this year.
While ministry officials claim that the commission does take note of such incidents that take place against minority communities, and it had even written to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary after the Kasganj incident, sources in the know said that unless the commission gets constitutional powers like those vested with the commission for SCs and STs, it cannot do much apart from conducting academic exercises related to progress and development of minorities and monitoring laws meant for their protection.