Special Officer For Linguistic Minorities

Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities. Later, the States Reorganization Commission (1953-55) made a recommendation in this regard. Accordingly, the Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 inserted a new Article 350-B in Part XVII of the Constitution. This article contains the following provisions: There should be a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities. He is to be appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution. He would report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct. The President should place all such reports before each House of Parliament and send to the governments of the states concerned. It must be noted here that the Constitution does not specify the qualifications, tenure, salaries and allowances, service conditions and procedure for removal of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities.

Powers, Functions and Responsibilities

In pursuance of the provision of Article 350-B of the Constitution, the office of the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities was created in 1957. He is designated as the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities. The Commissioner has his headquarters at Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh). He has three regional offices at Belgaum (Karnataka), Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Kolkata (West Bengal). Each is headed by an Assistant Commissioner. The Commissioner is assisted at headquarters by Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner. He maintains liaison with the State Governments and Union Territories through nodal officers appointed by them. At the Central level, the Commissioner falls under the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Hence, he submits the annual reports or other reports to the President through the Union Minority Affairs Minister.

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