Decide guidelines to define ‘minority’ in terms of State population, SC tells minorities commission

Updated - February 11, 2019 10:12 pm IST

Published - February 11, 2019 11:53 am IST - New Delhi

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take a decision on a plea seeking guidelines for defining the term ‘minority’ and for their identification State-wise.

A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the petitioner, BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, to approach the NCM with his plea. The Bench said the minority panel would take a decision on the representation within three months.

Mr. Upadhyay, in the petition filed in public interest, has claimed that the Central government through its 1993 circular notified only five communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis — as ‘minority’ community, without defining ‘minority’ and framing parameters for the identification of minority.

‘Created inequality’

He alleged that the classification of religious minorities at a pan-India level had not only created a wave of inequality across different States but also encouraged those who did not belong to those minority religions, to convert themselves for social, political and economic benefits.

He said Christians are a majority in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland and there is significant population in Arunachal, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal but they are treated as minority. Likewise, Sikhs are a majority in Punjab and there is significant population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana but they are treated as minority.

Muslims are a majority in Lakshadweep (96.20%) and J&K (68.30%) and there is significant population in Assam (34.20%), West Bengal (27.5%), Kerala (26.60%), Uttar Pradesh (19.30%) and Bihar (18%), he said.

“However, they are enjoying the ‘minority’ status, and the communities, which are real minorities, are not getting their legitimate share because of non-identification of minorities at the State level,” the plea said.

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