Legal Correspondent

Bench cites Minister's statement in Parliament

Petitioner at liberty to move court later if needed Headcount divisive: writ plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed as withdrawn a writ petition filed by the former Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. R. S. Kadyan, seeking a direction to the Centre to stop forthwith the headcount of Muslims in the defence forces.

A three-judge Bench, referring to last week's statement by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament that the Government would not conduct any such survey, asked counsel for the petitioner, "What else [do] you want?" Counsel Rajiv Dutta then said he would withdraw the petition.

While permitting withdrawal at this stage, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Justices C. K. Thakker and R. V. Raveendran gave liberty to the petitioner to approach the court if needed.

The petitioner had sought an injunction to restrain the Government from providing information to the Rajinder Sachar Committee on the number of Muslims serving the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. He said the headcount could create in the minority community a feeling of its being small in number and give cause for fear from the majority community. Further, the exercise would amount to discrimination and treatment of Muslims as a separate class.

A survey of any minority community in the defence forces would be divisive and would divide the people.