SC quashes plea on minority status for Hindus in 8 states
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that Hindus were a minority in eight states, but added that the Centre was not supporting the petition.Updated: Dec 18, 2019 04:28 IST
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) by a Bharatiya Janata Party leader that wanted minorities to be defined at the state-level, and not at the national level, which, if accepted would have required Hindu’s to be declared a minority community in eight states.
Arguing his plea before a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, the petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhayay, who is also a lawyer, said there is a need to lay down guidelines for the identification of minorities to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups, which are socially economically and politically non-dominant and numerically inferior, enjoy rights and protections guaranteed to them under the Constitution.
The bench disagreed with the arguments and said “Religion must be viewed pan-India... religion does not recognise political borders. Muslims follow Hindu law... in places like Lakshadweep.”
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that Hindus were a minority in eight states, but added that the Centre was not supporting the petition.
Upadhyay’s PIL sought to challenge the validity of the Centre’s 26-year-old notification declaring five communities, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis, as minorities.
The petitioner wanted the court to declare as unconstitutional section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minority (NCM) Act, 1992, under which the notification was issued on October 23, 1993.
Upadhyay sought direction for laying down guidelines to define the term minority, based on the population of a community in a state instead of the national average.
He contended in the plea that the 1993 notification violated the fundamental rights to health, education, shelter and livelihood.
In his petition, he added that Hindus, who are a majority community as per national data, are a minority in several north-eastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir (now a Union Territory).
Yet, the Hindu community is deprived of benefits which are available to minority communities in these states and UTs, the plea said, adding that NCM should reconsider the definition of minorities in this context.
According to the Census 2011, mentioned by the petitioner in his plea, Hindus are minority in eight states: Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75 %), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), Jammu and Kashmir (28.44 %), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).