After the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal last week to set up an Equal Opportunity Commission, a statutory body to check discrimination faced by religious minorities, a former Sachar Committee member and several other experts have expressed their “disappointment” with the move.

“The Sachar Committee had recommended establishment of an Equal Opportunity Commission for all socio-religious communities and deprived groups, and not just religious minorities,” said former Sachar Committee member Abusaleh Shariff, “so that opportunity of access and use is ensured equally and justly, and the level playing field can be provided to all of them.” The Equal Opportunity Commission just for religious minorities violates the very idea of an anti-discrimination body as envisioned by the Sachar Committee, added Dr. Shariff, who is presently the chief scholar at U.S.-India Policy Institute.

“It is very disappointing to see the concept of the Equal Opportunity Commission as conceptualised by the Sachar Committee being killed by this kind of body, which caters to just religious minorities.”

“The Sachar Committee recommended the Equal Opportunity Commission after considerable deliberations on existing institutions, which are not capable of addressing issues of equal opportunity,” said Dr. Shariff.

Rights activist Farah Naqvi also criticised the move saying that an Equal Opportunity Commission that protects only religious minorities will be a “contradiction in terms”.

An Equal Opportunity Commission for everybody, along with appropriate anti-discrimination legislation, is “desperately needed”.

An Equal Opportunity Commission that protects only religious minorities will be a “contradiction in terms”