Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the government on Thursday cleared a proposal for setting up the much- awaited Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC),a statutory body to check discrimination of minority communities in jobs and education. The Justice Sachar Committee, which went into the socio-economic backwardness of Muslims, had recommended setting up of such a panel. The proposal got the nod of the Union Cabinet on Thursday.
EOC will also deal with grievances like denial of accommodation or buying rights to minorities in housing societies. The recommendation for setting up of EOC was made during UPA-I itself and the Minority Affairs Ministry had begun the process to establish an omnibus body that could include all sections as soon as the UPA II government came to power.
A jumbo Group of Ministers, chaired by A K Antony, was set up to look into the matter as disputes arose about the location and powers of the panel with various other national commissions and ministries complaining that the proposed mandate of EOC would be encroaching upon their mandate. The GoM had later mandated that EOC will deal exclusively with minorities. EOC's mandate is to ensure that no minority community is discriminated against on religious grounds by redressing complaints.
It has to make binding recommendations that people from minority communities find adequate representation in government employment or educational institutions. The Sachar Committee that studied the socio-economic condition of the minorities in India had noted that though Muslims constituted 18.5 per cent of the population, their representation in bureaucracy was just about 2.5 per cent.