The Delhi High Court has directed the Ministry of Minority Affairs to fill up the six posts lying vacant at the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) by July 31. The Ministry cited the Model Code of Conduct and the pandemic crisis as the reasons for delay in nomination of members, and assured the court that it would make all efforts to fill the posts within three months.
In March, an affidavit was filed by Secretary, Union Ministry of Minorities Affairs which had informed the Court that utmost care and caution has to be taken while nominating members to the Commission as they are required to be persons of eminence, ability and integrity, and the Covid pandemic had delayed the process. The affidavit had stated that the interest of the notified Minority Communities and the functioning of the Commission as envisaged in the NCM Act, 1992 will not be compromised due to the vacant post.
During the hearing held in early March, Justice Prathiba M Singh, reportedly, deemed the affidavit to be “complete unsatisfactory” and said, “The mere fact that persons of eminence, ability and integrity have to be appointed, does not mean that the said appointments would not be expeditiously made”.
Pursuant to the court’s directions, a fresh report was filed and it has been submitted that appointments could not be made due to the model code of conduct being put in place due to state assembly elections. However, the Ministry said that it is making an all-out effort to expedite the nomination process, and it is likely to take approximately three months’ time to complete the nomination process.
The court took into consideration the Model Code of Conduct as well as the pandemic crisis and directed the Ministry of Minority Affairs to fill the vacant positions on or before July 31. The court disposed of the petition but directed that the petition be listed on August 12 for report of compliance.
The petition was filed by one Abhay Ratan Bauddh seeking directions for filling up vacant posts of Chairperson and other members of the NCM. Currently the Commission is functioning with one member who is the Vice-Chairperson and the remaining six positions remain vacant, including that of Chairperson.
The Commission is a statutory body that is required to have one chairperson and six members representing each of the six notified minority groups — Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs.
The Commission has been without a Chairperson since May 2020, when former Chairman Ghayoru Hasan Rizvi’s three-year term ended. Former vice chairman Manjit Singh Rai was acting as chairman of the Commission until his tenure got over in November 2020. There is only one member now, Atif Rasheed serving as vice-chairman.
The complete order may be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India