Financial constraints have crippled the functioning of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM). Due to absence of sufficient funds, the panel is unable to fulfil the responsibilities and duties mandated by the law.

“Our budget is very limited. Even though we are functioning, we are unable to do a lot many things which are part of our mandate,” said NCM chairperson Wajahat Habibullah.

He argued that the problem lies in the fact that as per law the panel is a “grant” organisation with provisions of allocation of funds directly from Parliament, but it has never been treated as one.

“The NCM came into being through the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, and has a large mandate which includes evaluating the progress and development of minorities, monitoring violations of their rights and looking into specific complaints regarding such violations. We have the mandate to conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of minorities,” said one NCM official.

“How are we supposed to fulfil all this when we don’t get sufficient funds?” he said , adding: “For every thing we have to take the sanction of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which may or may not give a go ahead. So, even if we want we can not organise seminars or conduct research work. We are actually not free to spend the current money allotted to us as per our own discretion.”

Among other things that affect the functioning of the panel is the fact that it does not have its own legal section.

“If the commission finds any individual, group or a government department violating rights of the minorities, it is unable to move court because we do not have a legal section,” said Mr. Habibullah.

He said the implementation of the grant status to the panel will enable it to fulfil its full mandate. But for that the initiative has to be taken by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Mr. Habibullah has already raised the issue of grant status with the Ministry twice, but there has not been much positive response from the Ministry.

  • Commission claims it has to seek Ministry of Minority Affairs’ sanction for everything

  • Implementation of grant status to panel will enable it to fulfil its mandate