Can Sikhs be a minority in Punjab, asks Supreme Court

The Supreme Court bench was hearing a clutch of petition that urged it to permanently restore the minority status of its educational institutions in Punjab.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: January 19, 2016 7:54 am
Sikhs, sikh minoriry, Punjab sikh minority The bench asked why Sikh students, who belonged to the majority community in Punjab, should be given admission under the minority quota.

In what could prompt the NDA government to revisit its policy on granting minority status, the Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s view on whether a minority community in one state can hold on to its status in another state, where it may have significant population and a good social and professional standing.

“How can Sikhs be considered a minority in Punjab? For that matter, they cannot be considered a minority even in Delhi. Our view is that numerical strength or their numbers alone may not be a sufficient indicator of a community to be recognised as a minority. Their affluence, social status, etc should also have a role in such determination,” said a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur.

Seeking the assistance of Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi in the matter, the bench posed the query: “Can Muslims in Kashmir and Sikhs in Punjab and Christians in Nagaland and some other Northeastern states be treated as a minority? According to us, economic and social status, number of people in government jobs, and several other factors should be taken into account… minority status may differ from one state to another.”

The bench was hearing a clutch of petition filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and others, which urged it to permanently restore the minority status of its educational institutions in Punjab. This would allow them to have separate educational institutions to preserve their language or culture, besides other benefits.

The Punjab government had issued two notifications in 2001 and 2006 granting minority status to SGPC-run educational institutions, including medical and engineering colleges, that allowed the committee to reserve up to 50 per cent of the seats exclusively for students from the Sikh community.

But in 2007, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed both notifications after holding that Sikhs did not qualify to be minorities in Punjab as they comprised majority of the population in the state. This order was stayed by the apex court in 2008 after the SGPC moved in appeal.

The matter was placed before the Constitution Bench, which began hearing it last week. The bench asked why Sikh students, who belonged to the majority community in Punjab, should be given admission under the minority quota.

“Sikhs don’t seem to qualify for this (minority) status… neither on the basis of their numerical strength, nor on the basis of their financial status,” it said, fixing the matter for a detailed hearing after four weeks. Apart from asking for the AG’s assistance to place on record the government’s stand on the issue, the court appointed senior lawyer T R Andhyarujina as amicus curiae in the case.

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  1. M
    Jan 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm
    I think a miniority protection group should be established for the protection of all miniority groups inside india and also outside india. Incase of serious events that in danger thier existence as a society, group, or religion. This can go for bhuddist, Jains, parsis and the sikhs living in india. As there have been violent incidents in the past that resulted in killings of minorities.
    1. A
      Amruth M
      Jan 19, 2016 at 4:13 am
      End this majority minority game. I support SC.
      1. H
        Harinder Singh
        Jan 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm
        We need to open up such educational insutes out side Punjab where they will fulfill the clause as desired by the Law.
        1. M
          Jan 19, 2016 at 4:30 am
          This sort of bull is not required ! India needs to move forward as long as it can ratio of religions remains the same we are same as Hindus -
          1. G
            Jan 18, 2016 at 4:17 pm
            Educational insutions are a big business especially if you get it registered as minority insution. No rules apply. Only make money. There is no need to have minority educational insution. This is only a ploy to create money nothing else. Lets see whether NDA Government has the guts to eradicate this mess forever.
            1. S
              Shyamal Ganguly
              Jan 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm
              Intelligent people are always among the minorities. But they do not need government sanctions.
            2. S
              SK Rao
              Jan 18, 2016 at 7:52 pm
              End this majority minority game. If all religions are equal under Indian law, why does it matter SC?! Indian law and it's Congress fathers were as communal as they come! And there is such a dash for being a minority in India just because of the benefits, oh! Why not we be majority and enjoy all the extra benefits like in the Vatican, or UAE, or Iran, or, Britain, ... Why is it a privilege to be minority here! Sikhs, Jains, Vedics, Buddhists are all Hindus and are part of majority. And give us the benefits. That minority enjoy in India. I protest against this apartheid against majority religion in India. And decry this way of dividing Hindus by refusing rights and benefits that minority enjoys! This amounts to no less than suppression of my religious freedom! I demand equality!
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