NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Commission for Minorities to decide on a representation to define the term “minorities" and lay down guidelines for their identification at the state level within three months.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the petitioner and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to re-file his representation and directed the commission to decide within three months.
The court was responding to a PIL by Upadhyay seeking grant of minority status to Hindus in eight states.The states are Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.
The plea claimed that Hindus have been a minority in the eight states but their minority rights are being siphoned off “illegally and arbitrarily" to the majority population because neither the central nor the state governments has notified them as a ‘minority’ under the National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992.
Citing the 2011 census, the petition said Hindus are minority in eight states: Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).
Failure to identify and recognize them as a minority leads to unreasonable disbursement of minority benefits, the plea said.
It also poses a challenge to a central government notification of 23 October,1993, in which five communities -- Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis -- were notified as minority communities. Such a notification is not only “arbitrary, irrational but also invalid and ultra vires the Constitution of India and its basic structure" and must be quashed, the petition said.