THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday issued notice on a plea urging it to transfer to itself petitions pending before High Courts challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, which empowers the Centre to declare a group as minority.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde issued the notice to the Centre on a plea by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, whose petition on the same subject is also pending before the Supreme Court.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate C S Vaidyanathan told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that similar petitions have been filed in the High Courts in Delhi, Meghalaya and Guwahati and requested that they be transferred to the apex court.
Upadhyay pointed out in his plea that the majority judgment of the Supreme Court in the 2002 T M A Pai case lays down that for the purposes of Article 30 that deals with the rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, the religious and linguistic minorities have to be considered state-wise.
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However, the Centre in exercise of powers under Section 2(c) of NCM Act declaring only Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians as minority by way of notification, groups like Hindus, Bahai’s and Jews had been deprived of legitimate rights, he contended. “Hindus are real minority in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur. But their minority rights are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily… because neither Centre nor respective states have notified them as minority under S. 2(c) of the NCM Act. Hence, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights and protections guaranteed under Article 29-30,” his petition said.
The plea has sought minority tag for Hindus in six states and two Union territories, where Upadhyay said their numbers have fallen according to the 2011 Census.
The petition stated that according to the Census, Hindus are a minority in six states: Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, and in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep.
It pointed out that Christians are in majority in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland and there is a significant Christian population in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, but they are treated as a minority community. Likewise, Sikhs are in majority in Punjab and there is a significant Sikh population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana, but they are treated as a minority community, it said.
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