‘Not in name of religion’: Plea in SC wants minorities commission scrapped
The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the central government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the National Commission for Minorities set up under a 1992 law.
The plea filed by six petitioners, who claimed to be followers of Sanatan Vedic Dharam, alleged that Hindu community is being discriminated against on the grounds of religion as a number of beneficiary schemes carrying a budget of Rs 4,700 crores have been initiated in favour of some religious minorities even though the Constitution does not conceive special provisions in the name of any religion.
Attorney General KK Venugopal who was asked to give his views on the matter told the court today that the issue involves constitutional questions and should be heard by a five-judge constitution bench.
The court gave the Centre four weeks to respond to the petition and listed the next hearing in March.
The petitioner argued that special benefits and advantages within the sweep of Article 15(4) of the constitution can be provided only to those communities which are found to be ‘socially and educationally backward’ classes of citizens. No religion or religious groups can be promoted using taxpayers money and therefore, no minorities commission can be created.
The petitioner submitted that the Government of India cannot promote “minoritism”, show inclination towards minorities and allure them to flourish by initiating beneficial programs for them. Such an action will be detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India and give rise to separatists sowing seeds for another division of the nation, the petitioners argued.
“Right to equality, equal protection of law, rule of law and a secular state are basic pillars of Indian Constitution”, the petition stated.
The petitioner has prayed for striking down the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 and to restrain the central government from implementing and spending any money from government funds on schemes designed for minorities.