Equal Opportunity Commission Bill Still In Process

New Delhi: The much-talked about “Equal Opportunity Commission” may not see the light of the day soon as the Congress-led UPA Government is still in the process of finalizing the draft of the EOC. However, it has said that the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) have been taken into account while preparing the draft Equal Opportunity Commission Bill, 2011. In a written reply to a question in the lower house of Parliament during the monsoon session, Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid said that the Bill was again circulated to various concerned ministries/departments and comments of most of the ministries have been received. As the comments received need further consultation, some more time will be required for its finalization before its introduction in Parliament, he added.

Giving the background for the creation of an EOC, he said that in accordance with the Sachar Committee recommendations, the Government constituted an expert group to recommend the structure, scope and functions along with advice on an appropriate legislative framework of the proposed EOC. The expert group consulted a number of institutions, stakeholders and experts across the country and after taking on board their views submitted their report to the Central Government. The expert group also submitted a draft Bill. The report of the expert group was examined and a draft note for the Cabinet for setting up of an EOC was circulated to the ministries/departments for comments.

The Cabinet while considering the draft Bill on EOC, constituted a GoM to examine all issues related to the setting up of an EOC including those related to its jurisdiction. The GoM has since made its recommendations, which were taken into account in preparing the Draft Equal Opportunity Commission Bill, 2011. He said the proposed EOC would look into the grievances of the deprived groups. It is to be mentioned here that the National Commission for Minorities under the then chairman Mohammad Qureshi was not in favour of such a commission on the ground that it would make the NCM redundant.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 10

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