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Niti Aayog Portal.

India, May 1 -- Minority Status Certificate is mandatory to avail the provisions of Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India. In 2004 India Government constituted a Commission called "National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions" with the objective of protecting the educational rights of minorities. This Commission grants Minority Status. It has appellate jurisdiction and original jurisdiction. It is a quasi-judicial body.

From 2004 to March 2017, the Minority Educational institutions all over India have been trying to obtain the Minority Status certificate for all their institutions. However from 1st April 2017, no file is coming to the Commission for the said purpose.

Recently uploaded application form by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institution (NCMEI) to obtain Minority Status certificate starts with a mandatory clause. The form starts as this- 1.(a) Is the institution run by an individual or by a trust/society:

(i) If it is run by a trust/society, indicate unique ID of trust/society as given by the NITI Aayog portal NGO Darpan (It is not needed only in the case of institution run by individuals). Further, the details given in the form should match with corresponding details as available on the NGO Darpan web site (http://ngo.india.gov.in)

With the effect from 1st April 2017 no application for minority status is accepted by the Commission if the said unique id is not submitted along with the application. If the case is listed after April 1st for hearing which was filed before the above said date, on production of required documents, the Commission shall pass an order "Minority Status is granted". But the certificate will be dispatched or granted to the concerned institution only on the production of the said unique ID, for which 15 day's time is granted.

What is NITI Aayog?

The NGO-Partnership System(NGO-PS) Portal (NGO-DARPAN) was earlier maintained by erstwhile planning Commission, which has been replaced by the NITI Aayog w.e.f.1st January, 2015. The Portal, therefore, is being maintained at present under the aegis of NITI Aayog. NITI Aayog invites all Voluntary Organizations (VOs)/Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs) to sign up on the Portal.

VOs/NGOs play a major role in the development of the nation by supplementing the efforts of the Government. This portal enables VOs/NGOs to enrol centrally and thus facilitates creation of a repository of information about VOs/NGOs, Sector/State wise. The Portal facilities VOs/NGOs, to obtain a system generated Unique ID, as and when signed.

In India there are approximately 3.1million NGOs/VOs out of which only 81,353 NGOs/VOs are signed up with NITI Aayog NGO-DARPAN portal.

Difficulty faced

A Society or Trust has to be registered with NITI Aayog "on line" only. Most of the minority institutions are working in interior places of the country where there is no internet facility. Where there is internet connection, they face either no range or slow range or interruption. The form "online" has 8 main points and sub-points, containing 4-5 pages.

Many institutions complain that when they start filling up the form 'online' after few points interruption takes place, no range or the line getting disconnected. As a result parties are unable to register with NITI 'online'. The sad part is with out the said unique ID they are unable to get Minority Status Certificate.

On the other hand, the State Government is compelling them to allot 25% for the poor students under RTE if the institution has not received Minority Status. Also the management cannot exercise other rights like appointment of teachers, principals, etc.

Institutions in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andaman and Nicobar, Bihar, Orissa etc are badly affected by the new order of the Commission as there is no internet connection or range. Thus this mandatory clause has put a full stop to many institutions from applying for Minority Status.

As on today, there is no law that makes mandatory the Unique Id given by NITI to obtain Minority Status from any competent authority.

The Unique ID is mandatory to apply for grants under various schemes of Ministries/Departments/Government Bodies. On Dec 1, 2016, the Indian Government asked all the NGOs/VOs to get registered with NGO DARPAN. Now it is mandatory for all NGOs and voluntary organizations (VOs) to register with NITI Aayog to receive grant-in-aid from ministries or departments of the central government. It is mandatory for all NGOs/voluntary organizations to sign up on NGO-DARPAN portal to obtain a system-generated unique ID before applying for grant under any scheme of the central government.

However making it mandatory to obtain Minority Status defeats justice to minorities in exercising their fundamental rights under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

Till August 2016, whenever a file is reached before the Commission, it was registered immediately and within 3 months a notice would be issued to the petitioner. However it is learned that the applications/petitions received by the Commission after August 2016 are not registered till today and they are bundled up in a particular room. On inquiry, they said that sufficient employees are not appointed in the Commission. The work is increasing and the employees are decreasing. At present there are only two Members in the Commission, one woman Member from Muslim community and a man Member from Sikh community. There is no chairperson. It is pertinent to note that there is no Member from Christian Minority Community is appointed for last 2-3 years in the Commission. The Central Government should with out further delay appoint a Chairperson, a Member from Christian community and sufficient employees. Unless the Commission withdraws the mandatory provision of NITI Aayog Unique Id Number for obtaining minority status, the purpose for which the Commission is established shall be defeated.

(The writer is Advocate, Supreme Court, and Former Member, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Govt of India.)

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Publication:Indian Currents
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:May 1, 2017
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