No minority tag for Hindus: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a PIL seeking minority status for Hindus in several states where Muslims or Christians are in the majority and said religious minority tag could be given only on the basis of pan-India population.

A bench of CJI S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant was told by attorney general K K Venugopal that Hindu population was in minority in seven states and Union Territories and the court had sought his assistance in adjudicating a PIL by Ashwini Upadhyay, who had sought changing the criteria for grant of minority status to the community’s population in a state, and not in the entire country.

Upadhyay’s counsel Mohan Parasaran said Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, “arbitrarily” notified Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis as minority communities on October 23, 1993, based on their national population. He said some of these communities, despite being in majority in some states, were cornering government sponsored benefits meant for minority communities of those states.

As per the Census, Hindus were in minority in Punjab (Sikh majority), Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland (all with Christian majority), Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep (Muslim majority). The majority community here were enjoying ‘minority’ status and communities which were the real minorities were not getting legitimate share because of non-identification of minorities, Upadhyay said.

The bench asked the AG to explain the criteria by which a minority community was being identified and notified. However, it changed tack and asked Parasaran why the petitioner was taking state as a unit for determining minority community.

When Parasaran said constitution benches of the SC had so determined in two cases — T M A Pai and P A Inamdar — for determining linguistic minority as far as establishment of educational institutions were concerned, the bench said, “States were formed on linguistic basis. That is not the case with religion. It has to be pan-India. What is the problem if a community is majority in J&K but minority in all other states?”

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