Why can’t minorities be determined State-wise, Supreme Court asks petitioner

A petitioner has argued that minority status for religious communities should be granted district-wise

November 22, 2022 09:00 pm | Updated November 23, 2022 01:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of Supreme Court of India. File

A view of Supreme Court of India. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned a petitioner’s argument that minority status for religious communities should be granted district-wise.

“Can minorities be determined district-wise? Why not State-wise?” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, accompanied by Justice A.S. Oka, asked advocate-petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

A 11-judge Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai case had held that linguistic and religious minorities should be identified State-wise.

The court’s question on Tuesday came while hearing a series of petitions seeking the identification of minority communities district-wise, saying the recognition of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis nationally by the Centre as ‘minorities’ ignore the fact that ‘majority’ religious communities like Hindus are actually “socially, economically, politically non-dominant and numerically inferior” in several States.

Challenge Sections

The petitioners have also challenged Section 2(f) and Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions Act, 2004 and the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, respectively, passed by Parliament. These Sections specifically empower the Centre to notify a minority community.

However, the court had asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the petitions. The government had previously sought time for consultations with States and other stakeholders. In its latest status report, the Centre said 14 States had given their comments on the issue while 19 had not. The court adjourned the case by six weeks after the government sought more time.

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