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PANJIM: A long overdue legislation to protect minority rights has finally seen the light of day, with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday introducing a Bill in the Assembly to facilitate constitution of a seven-member State Minorities Commission for Goa in keeping with his promise made during the last budget session.
The Bill gives the Commission the responsibility to evaluate the progress of the development of minorities, monitor the working of constitutional safeguards and Central and State laws and makes recommendations to safeguard and
protect the interests of minorities by the government and
look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of minority rights.
The Goa Commission for Minorities Bill, 2012 mandates the constitution of a Commission which shall consist of a chairman, a vice chairman and five members to be nominated by the government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity. All five members including the chairman shall be from amongst the minority communities.
As per this Bill, the chairperson, vice chairperson and every member will hold office for a term of three years from the date they assume office or until they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
It has been stipulated in the Bill that chairman, vice chairman or member will be removed from office if he/she absents himself from three consecutive meetings, or in the opinion of the government has abused his position as to render that person’s continuance in office detrimental to the interest of minorities or the public interest.
Main functions of the Commission as envisaged in the Bill will involve evaluating the progress of the development of minorities in the State, monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution of India and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly.
To make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interest of minorities by the government, look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
The proposed Commission would also consider the grievances of the minorities and to suggest appropriate solution from time to time.
The Minorities Commission will have all powers of a civil court trying a suit. It will enjoy power to summon and enforce the attendance of any person from any part of the State and examine him on oath, receive evidence on affidavits, requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office, issue commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.