National minority status for Jains?

  • Nagendar Sharma & Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2011 23:48 IST

The government is working on a proposal to provide minority status to the Jain community at the national level. So far, the community has the minority status in eight states.

The law ministry is examining the proposal to make the community, with an estimated population of five million (50 lakh) in the country, eligible for the minority status nationally.

"We are working on a definite formula and intend to come out with a practical and workable solution to accord minority status to the Jain community nationally," said law minister M Veerappa Moily.

Currently, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh recognise the Jains as a minority.

Five communities - Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Budhhists and Parsis have been recognised as national minorities.

A minority status enables a community to run and administer exclusive educational institutions and derive benefits from all welfare schemes running for the minorities including the PM's 15-point programme.

Minorities recognised by the government can approach the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) for safeguarding rights and grievance redressal.

A law ministry official said the government could consider approaching the Supreme Court seeking clarification on an earlier judgment by the top court ruling that Jain community was a part of the Hindu tradition. "The option is available to us though the government is competent to issue a notification under the provisions of the National Commission for Minorities Act."

"There are some high court verdicts which have recognised the jain community as a minority," said the official.

The state governments have the liberty to accord minority status to any community, since it is a state subject according to the constitution.

Delhi is the latest state to have declared the Jain community as a minority. The community has an estimated population of around five lakh (half a million) in the Capital, which is less than one percent of Delhi's population.


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