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Minority status for Hindus in J-K: SC to hear PIL after 8 weeks

The top court on Monday observed that it cannot direct the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to legislate on the issue.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2017 22:26 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Supreme Court,Minority status for Hindus,Jammu and Kashmir
Supreme Court will take up for hearing after eight weeks a PIL seeking minority status for Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir and seven other states. (HT Photo )

The Supreme Court will take up for hearings after eight weeks a public interest litigation (PIL) that sought granting of minority status to Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir and seven other states.

The top court on Monday had asked the Centre to deliberate on constituting a minority commission in the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, stating it cannot direct the state legislature to legislate on the issue.

There has been a serious difference of opinion over the issue between the Jammu and Kashmir’s two ruling coalition partners, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The case will again be listed after eight weeks. By then a joint committee of the Centre and the state government has to submit a report to the court on the contentious issue,” Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma told Hindustan Times.

The Centre will have to take a call on the issue of identification of minorities in Jammu and Kashmir and other Hindu minority states, he further said and hoped that central government would come up with a “rational and legally sustainable” report.

He said the ball is now in the Centre’s court.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra on Monday observed how could the court ask or direct the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to legislate on a particular matter, when the Centre had said it would deliberate on the matter and get back to this court, Sharma said.

The top court made the verbal observation on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Sharma and others.

According to 2011 census, Hindus are in minorities in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.

The PIL claims minority rights of the Hindus in these states were being usurped by the majority community because neither the central nor the state governments have notified them as a ‘minority’ under the National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992.

The SC had on August 8 given three more months to Centre and J-K government to sit together and take a “considerate view” on formation of a minority Commission in the state.

Muslims constitute 68.3% of the state population while Hindus form 28.4%, Sikhs 1.9%, Buddhists 0.9% and Christians form 0.3% of the total population as per the 2011 census report.

Following Sharma’s PIL, the PDP-led state government in September last year had submitted before the SC that the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 was not applicable to the state and as such it did not have to set up a state-level minority commission.

The BJP, however, took serious exception to the stand taken by the government in its affidavit.

Prof Virender Gupta, state spokesman of the BJP, said that “Kashmiri leadership that considers itself as a most secular lot in the country cannot afford to ignore the plight of minorities in the state, who are criminally victimised and discriminated in the state”.

He pointed out that the policy followed by state government amounts to cheating the nation and looting the money meant for the religious and linguistic minorities of the state.

He added that the Muslim-majority state cannot divert the benefits meant for the minorities of the state to the majority community.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 22:26 IST