TCN special: Misra Commission report excerpts- Part 19

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Terms of Reference No. 1

Criteria for Identifying Socially and Economically Backward Classes among the Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

In our considered opinion the ultimate goal should be the evolution for a uniform pattern of criteria for identifying the backward, which should be based only on the educational and economic status of people and not on their caste ore religion, and its application equally to all sections of the citizens irrespective of their caste or religion.

Religious Minorities

… whatever recommendations of a general nature (for all minorities) we are making here are not only for the communities notified as “minorities” by executive action under the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 but all religious minorities- large or small-including the Hindus in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab.

We recommend that in the matter of criteria for identifying backward classes there should be absolutely no discrimination whatsoever between the majority community and the minorities; and, therefore, the criteria now applied for this purpose to the majority community- whatever that criteria may be – must be unreservedly applied also to all the minorities.

… we recommend that all those classes, sections and groups among the minorities should be treated as backward whose counterparts in the majority community are regarded as backward under the present scheme of things.

… all those classes, sections and groups among the various minorities as are generally regarded as ‘inferior’ within the social strata and societal system of those communities= whether called ’zat’ or known by any other synonymous expression- should be treated as backward.

… all those social and vocational groups among the minorities who but for their religious identity would have been covered by the present net of Scheduled Castes should be unquestionably treated as socially backward, irrespective of whether the religion of those other communities recognizes the caste system or not.

… those groups among the minorities whose counterparts in the majority community are at present covered by the net of Scheduled Tribes should also be included in that net; and also, more specifically, members of that minority communities living in any Tribal Area from pre-independence days should be so included irrespective of their ethnic characteristics.

Linguistic Minorities

… the concept of ‘backwardness’ is to be confined in its application to religious minorities as it has no relevance for the linguistic minorities.

Terms of Reference No. II

Measures of Welfare for Minorities including Reservation

As democracy is a game of numbers, the numerically weaker sections of the citizenry in any society may and often do get marginalized by the majority. This is eminently true of the religious minorities in India where the society remains intensively religious and religion-conscious and the religious minorities live with a predominant religious community accounting for over 80 percent of the national population. In such a situation legal protection from the hegemony and preponderance of the majority community becomes a pressing need of the religious minorities as a whole, and not just that of the ‘backward’ sections among them. To provide such necessary protection by law we do have in the Constitution a Directive Principle of State Policy, Article 46, which speaks of “weaker sections of the people” – notably without subjecting them to the condition of backwardness– and mandates the State to “promote with special care” the educational and economic interests of such sections. It is keeping this in mind that we are making certain recommendations for the religious communities as such- though we are, of course, also recommending some special measures for the socially and educationally backward sections among the minorities.

… backwardness- both social and economic- actually emanates from educational backwardness. We are, therefore, making certain measures for the educational advancement of the religious minorities- especially the Muslims and the Neo-Buddhists…

As the meaning and scope of Article 30 of the Constitution has become quite uncertain, complicated and diluted due to their varied and sometimes conflicting judicial interpretations, we recommend that a comprehensive law should be enacted without delay to details all aspects of minorities’ educational rights under that provision with a view to reinforcing its original dictates in letter and spirit.

The statute of the National Minority Educational Institutions Commission should be amended to make it wide-based in its composition, powers, functions and responsibilities and to enable it to work as the watchdog for a meticulous enforcement of all aspects of minorities’ educational rights under the Constitution.

As by the force of judicial decisions the minority intake in minority educational institutions has, in the interest of national integration, been restricted to about 50 percent, thus virtually earmarking the remaining 50 percent or so far the majority community- we strongly recommend that, by the same analogy and for the same purpose, at least 15 percent seats in all non-minority educational institutions should be earmarked by law for the minorities as follows:

(a) The break up within the recommended 15 percent earmarked seats in institutions shall be 10 percent for the Muslims (commensurate with their 73 percent share of the former in the total minority population at the national level) and the remaining 5 percent for the other minorities.
(b) Minor adjustments inter se can be made in the 15 percent earmarked seats. In the case of non-availability of Muslim candidates to fill 10 percent earmarked seats, the remaining vacancies may be given to the other minorities if their members are available over and above their share of 5 percent; but in no case shall any seat within the recommended 15 percent go to the majority community.
(c) As is the case with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at present, those minority community candidate who can compete with others and secure admission on their own merit shall not be included in these 15 percent earmarked seats.

As regards the backward sections among all the minorities, we recommend that the concessions now available in terms of lower eligibility criteria for admission and lower rate of free, now available to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, should be extended also to such sections among the minorities. Since women among some minorities- especially the Muslims and Buddhists- are generally educationally backward, we recommend that the same measure for them as well and suggest that other possible measures be also initiated for their educational advancement.