“Religion must be construed as pan India, not on political boundaries of States” SC refuses to entertain plea seeking declaration of Hindus as minorities in 8 States
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“Religion must be construed as pan India, not on political boundaries of States” SC refuses to entertain plea seeking declaration of Hindus as minorities in 8 States

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today dismissed the petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking declaration of Hindus as minorities in eight states of India.

Upadhyay’s petition has also sought for extension of benefits given to minority communities to the Hindus in these eight states where other communities are in majority.

The Supreme Court Bench of CJI SA Bobde with Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, while refusing to entertain this petition, said that the Court has never held that religious minority status must be decided in accordance with state boundaries. CJI Bobde said,

Religion must be construed as pan India, not on political boundaries of States.”

The petitioner’s request for guidelines for identification of minorities in States as units was turned down by the Supreme Court. The Court said,

“Who doesn’t know who is Hindu, who is Muslim… You need guidelines to tell you who is Hindu, who is Muslim etc.?”

The PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had prayed that minorities be identified based on their status in a State.

Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay

It sought a direction to be issued to the Central government to define the term “Minority” and lay down guidelines for identification, to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups that are socially economically and politically non-dominant and numerically inferior may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30.

To this end, the petitioner has prayed for the striking down of Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

He has also prayed for the quashing of a notification issued by the Central government in 1993 by which Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zorastrians were notified as minorities.

The Supreme Court had earlier granted liberty to Upadhyay to make a representation before the National Commission for Minorities.

Accordingly, Upadhyay had presented four prayers before the Commission included defining of minorities in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 1992, formulation of guidelines for identifying minority communities at the state level, and declaration of Hindus as minorities in states where they are not in majority.

In July, this year, the Commission informed the Supreme Court that it does not have the jurisdiction to declare Hindus as minorities in states where they are not in the majority. The Commission’s response further elaborated that the repository to declare a community as a minority lies with the Centre and this power cannot be usurped by the Commission.

The body also added that in a 1999 judgment in the case Bal Patil vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had directed the Commission to desist from entertaining such claims from different communities and to instead work towards proposing ways to create such social conditions that would lead to doing away with the majority-minority divide.

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