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Monday, Oct 03, 2022

SC junks plea for identifying minorities at state-level

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant turned down the plea by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, saying religious classification should be on all-India basis and not state-wise.

SC junks plea for identifying minorities at state-level The petition was originally filed in November 2017 and the court had asked Upadhyay to approach the National Commission for Minorities with the prayer. (File)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking guidelines on who is a minority and for identifying minorities at the state level.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant turned down the plea by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, saying religious classification should be on all-India basis and not state-wise.

Upadhyay had approached the apex court against the Centre’s October 23, 1993 notification issued under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Under this, the Union government notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as “minority”, he pointed out, and contended that this was done without defining who is a “minority” or framing any guidelines for identification of minority.

Appearing for him, senior advocate Mohan Parasaran said that in the T M A Pai case, the court had laid down that the unit for determining the minority status should be the state but “the Notification failed to treat the State as a Unit despite law in this regard”. Upadhyay said Hindus had been reduced to minority in eight states and prayed that they should be granted minority status.

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But the bench said that while language is considered state-wise, “religion must be considered pan-India”. It asked the petitioner “what is the problem if Muslims are majority in Kashmir and minority elsewhere?”

“Languages are restricted state-wise. Religions don’t have state borders. We have to take a pan-India approach,” observed the CJI.

The petition was originally filed in November 2017 and the court had asked Upadhyay to approach the National Commission for Minorities with the prayer.

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The National Commission for Minorities, however, said that it has no jurisdiction to deal with a prayer to designate Hindus as minority in some states and that only the Centre can do this.

Upadhyay plea had contended that Muslims were “actually majority in Lakshdweep and Jammu & Kashmir” and there was “significant population in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar”.

“However, they are enjoying the ‘minority’ status, and the communities which are real minorities are not getting their legitimate share because of non-identification of minorities at State level, thereby jeopardizing their fundamental rights,” he contended.

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“This clearly reflects arbitrariness and illegality” in Section 2(c) and the Notification, his plea said.

First published on: 18-12-2019 at 03:30:03 am
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