PIL in SC seeks guidelines for defining ‘minority’

SC directs panel to take a decision within three months

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take a decision on a plea seeking to form guidelines for defining the term “minority” and lay down guidelines for its identification State-wise.

A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to approach the NCM with his plea. The Bench said the minority panel will 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 identification of minority.

He alleged that the classification of religious minorities at pan-India level has not only created a wave of inequality across different States but also encouraged those who did not belong to those minority religion, to convert themselves for the social, political and economic benefits. Mr. Upadhyay’s plea said the Christians are 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 majority in Punjab and there is significant population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana but they are treated as minority.

Muslims are majority in Lakshdweep (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 State level,” the plea said.

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