New Delhi: Absence of consensus among
ministries has created a hurdle in the setting up of an Equal
Opportunities Commission (EOC) at least for the time being.
Official sources said that there was no unanimity in the
Cabinet on the draft of the bill for establishment of the EOC,
as a result of which it could not be table in the just
concluded Budget Session of Parliament.
The issue is currently under the consideration of a Group
of Ministers (GoM), chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony,
which has already held two marathon meetings in January and
March this year to discuss the issue. However, no final view
has emerged so far.
It was initially planned to introduce the bill in
Parliament in the last Winter Session. Then it was proposed to be done in the Budget Session. However, with sharp
differences over various aspects of the EOC, there are serious
doubts if it can be possible in the Monsoon Session, which
normally starts in the third week of July.
The third meeting of the GoM was slated for May 6 but had
to be cancelled due to engagement of ministers during the
Budget Session, which concluded on May 7.
On whether the EOC will see the light of the day, Minority
Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "We will do it
gradually... we have made progress in this regard."
After the second meeting of the GoM on March 2, Khurshid
had expressed the hope that the draft bill is likely to be
brought before Parliament during the Budget Session after the
Cabinet`s nod as "95 per cent of problems related to its
location and jurisdictional over-lapping" have been solved.
The meeting had stressed that the EOC should not undermine
any existing Commission more particularly the National
Commission for Scheduled Classes (NCSC), which is a
Doubts were raised at the first meeting of the GoM that
the proposed body could interfere in these commissions and
create jurisdictional hurdles. The concerns were mainly raised
by ministries of HRD and Social Justice and Empowerment.
The HRD Ministry, which in UPA-I had totally opposed EOC,
is, however, learnt to have agreed to its formation with the
caveat that it should not impinge on the powers and functions
of National Commission on Minority Educational Institutes
(NCMEI) functioning under it, the sources said.
NCSC as well as some other commissions including the
National Commission for Minorities (NCM) have objected to the
formation of the EOC, fearing it would encroach upon their