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Posted at: Feb 11, 2019, 8:53 PM; last updated: Feb 11, 2019, 8:53 PM (IST)

SC asks NCM to decide on representation seeking definition of 'minority'

SC asks NCM to decide on representation seeking definition of 'minority'
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Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 11

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take a decision in three months on a representation seeking guidelines for defining 'minority'—a term which has not been defined either under the Constitution or any other law.

The direction came from a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on a petition filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay who was earlier asked by the court to approach the NCM with his representation. He moved the top court again as the NCM didn’t take a decision on his representation.

Now the top court has asked him to re-file his representation before the NCM, which has to take a decision on it in three months. 

NCM Chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi told The Tribune: “The commission had set up a committee to examine the issue and the decision would be communicated to the petitioner as directed by the court. But the final decision on the issue would be taken by the Government only”.

Upadhyay has pointed out that term has not been defined under the NCM Act, 1992 and the Centre’s notification declaring five communities—Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists—as minorities was not based on proper criteria. He has demanded that the term ‘minority’ needed to be properly defined and reconsidered in the context of population of a religious community in a state, instead of nationwide demographic strength.

The sought to emphasise that Hindus, who are a majority community as per national census figures, are a minority in several north-eastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being in minority in Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Lakshdweep, Hindus were deprived of benefits available to minority communities in these states, he submitted.

"According to 2011 Census, Hindus are minority in eight states—Lakshadweep (2.5 per cent), Mizoram (2.75 per cent), Nagaland (8.75 per cent), Meghalaya (11.53 per cent), J&K (28.44 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (29 per cent), Manipur (31.39 per cent) and Punjab (38.40 per cent).

The top court had on November 10, 2017, declined to entertain a plea filed by Upadhyay seeking minority status for Hindus in seven states and one Union Territory and asked him to approach the National Commission for Minorities.

He demanded that Hindus in these seven states and one Union Territory should be declared a minority community.

"Their minority rights are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily to the majority population because neither Central nor the state governments have notified Hindus as a 'minority' under the National Commission for Minority Act. Therefore, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights," Upadhyay said.

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