SC seeks AG’s assistance in plea seeking amendment of definition of ‘minority’ based on state-wise data

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has sought assistance of Attorney General K K Venugopal in dealing with a plea seeking that minority communities be defined on the basis of state-wise population data instead of national data after taking note of the submissions of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi that the law which allows declaration of minority community on the basis of national data was illegal.

The bench asked BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who has filed a PIL on the issue, to supply a copy of the petition to the office of the attorney general and listed it for hearing after four weeks. The plea has challenged the validity of the Centre’s 26-year-old notification declaring five communities, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis, as minorities.

It has sought

  • to declare as unconstitutional Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minority Act, 1992, under which the notification was issued on October 23, 1993.
  • direction for laying down guidelines to define the term ‘minority’, based on state-wise population of a community instead of the national average.
  • minority status for Hindus in seven states and one Union Territory where the number of the community has fallen, according to the Census 2011.

It has also been contended that the notification was violative of fundamental rights to health, education, shelter and livelihood.

The advocate said he was filing the public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue as he did not receive any response on his representation from the Home Ministry, the Ministry of Law and Justice and the National Commission for Minorities.

It has also been contended that Hindus, who are a majority community as per national data, are a minority in several north-eastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Hindu community is deprived of benefits which are available to the minority communities in these states, the plea has said, adding that NCM should reconsider the definition of minority in this context.

The definition of “minority” as per Article 29-30 has left leakages in the hands of state, which shall be misused and are being misused for political benefits, the petition said, adding that the minority status be granted to Hindus in states where the number of the community has decreased.

The plea has stated that

  • Christians are in majority in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland and there is significant population in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal but they are treated as minority.
  • Sikhs are a majority in Punjab and there is a significant population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana but they are treated as a minority, it has said.
  • Muslims are a majority in Lakshadweep (96.20 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (68.30 per cent) and there is a significant population of the community in Assam (34.20 pc), West Bengal (27.5 pc), Kerala (26.60 pc), Uttar Pradesh (19.30 pc) and Bihar (18 pc).

However, they are enjoying ‘minority’ status, and communities, which are real minorities, are not getting their legitimate share, jeopardizing their basic rights guaranteed under the Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, the petition has said.

(Source: PTI)

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