Wajahat Habibullah is new head of minorities’ panel

Thursday, February 3, 2011

NEW DELHI - Former bureaucrat and India’s first chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah Thursday took over as the new chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities.

Habibullah will hold the office for a period of three years, said an official of the minority affairs ministry that presides over the minority panel.

A 1968-batch IAS officer, the former bureaucrat filled the post lying vacant for the past five months. His predecessor Mohammed Shafi Qureshi retired in September last year.

Soon after assuming office, Habibullah held a meeting of the panel and also met its senior officers.

His appointment as the head of the minorities’ panel comes at a time when questions are being raised over the need for the commission as the government is moving ahead with its plan to form an Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) - a body vested with court-like powers to check discrimination on the basis of religion and language.

The NCM was formed by the Indian government in 1978 to monitor and evaluate the progress of minorities.

Habibullah said his priority would be to ensure that there was no violation of constitutional rights granted to all citizens including minorities.

“The objective is that the constitution is respected by all. The constitution enjoins equal opportunities for all communities,” Habibullah told IANS.

About the panel he heads, Habibullah said: “It has a certain degree of authority and has in the past successfully brought issues of importance to the government’s attention.”

Meanwhile, Keki N. Daruwalla also took over as a member of the commission. With this, all the vacancies in the panel, which has a chairman, a vice-chairman and five members, have been filled.

Filed under: Religion

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