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Discrimination against minorities to be a crime soon

June 24, 2011 by  
Filed under lead story, Persecution

Salman Khurshid

Khurshid wants the Ministry of Minority Affairs to evolve into the Ministry of Equal Opportunities

New Delhi: If you are not able to get house in any housing societies because you are being discriminated against for being a member of minority community, then the housing society may have to go through three-month jail term and Rs. 5 lakh fine. According to the draft of the proposed Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) bill, prepared by the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA), discrimination against minorities and other disadvantaged groups will be a crime attracting jail term and hefty fine.

EOC is a flagship anti-discrimination commission which was promised by the Congress party in its election manifesto. The EOC was suggested by the Sachar Committee which was formed by the UPA-1 to probe the socio-economic status of Muslims. But after strong disagreements between several ministries over the power and domain of the EOC, the proposal for an EOC was lying pending.

Few members of the union cabinet wanted the EOC just for the minorities whereas there were other ministers who wanted the panel to cover every disadvantaged group; on top of that, the Group of Ministers (GoM) assigned to look after the creation of the EOC, wanted the private sector to be kept out of the domain of the commission.

But according to sources in the MMA, the EOC is back on track. In fact the Law Ministry has also cleared the draft of the EOC bill, which not only includes every disadvantaged group within the commissions’ working area but also empowers the commission to have private sector under its purview.

The bill provides the EOC with the powers of a civil court, which can penalize individuals and institutions practicing discrimination in the government and private sector as well. The focus areas of the EOC will be employment, housing and education, with the aim of preparing an equal ground for the minorities and disadvantaged groups in these three vital sectors.

According to the draft of the EOC bill, even after three-month jail and Rs 5 lakh fine, if the concerned individual or institution doesn’t stop discriminating against the targeted persons, then the repeated defaulters could be fined up to Rs one lakh per day.

According to the proposed draft of the EOC bill, the anti-discrimination panel will set up standard codes and equality benchmarks for all levels of the government as well as private sector.

– By Md. Ali, TwoCircles.net 

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