SC issues notice to Centre on PIL seeking transfer of cases on definition of ‘minority’

Currently, various high courts, including Delhi, Guwahati and Meghalaya, were seized of petitions challenging the validity of Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992

SC issues notice to Centre on PIL seeking transfer of cases on definition of ‘minority’

Photo for representation. PTI file

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking transfer of all petitions pending in various high courts challenging the validity of Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, to avoid multiplicity of litigation and conflicting interpretations.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre and petitioners before various high courts to respond to the transfer petition filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

He wanted the top court to hear all cases on the issue to avoid the multiplicity of litigation and conflicting views on the interpretation of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution that deal with the protection of interests of minorities, and the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

Currently, various high courts, including Delhi, Guwahati and Meghalaya, were seized of petitions challenging the validity of Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992.

Section 2(c) simply says “minority”, for the purposes of this Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government.

The Centre issued a notification on October 23, 1993, declaring Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists as minorities. Jains were added to the list in 2014 based on their demographic numbers.

However, the Act doesn’t lay down any guidelines for determination of claim of any religious or linguistic group to be declared as “minority” under the NCM Act, and the Centre has identified “minorities” on the national basis and not on the basis of a community’s number in a particular state. It has led to an anomalous situation as in many states a community having a higher population has been declared as “minority”, he said.

Upadhyay said: “The minority rights of the Hindus are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily to the majority population because neither the Centre nor respective states have notified them as ‘minority’ under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act. Hence, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30.”

Describing the Supreme Court as custodian of the Constitution and protector of Fundamental Rights, Upadhyay urged it to direct the Ministry of Home Affairs to identify and notify religious and linguistic minorities at the state level in the spirit of the Constitution.

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