Cannot Direct J&K Legislature To Constitute State Minority Commission: SC

Cannot Direct J&K Legislature To Constitute State Minority Commission: SC

The Supreme Court today categorically said it cannot direct the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to legislate for formation of minority commission for the state and asked the Centre to "deliberate" on it.

"How can we ask or direct the state legislature to legislate in a particular manner.The Centre says they will deliberate on it and get back to this court", Chief Justice Dipak Misra heading a three judge bench told Ankur Sharma, the petitioner who is a Jammu-based lawyer.

"We can't issue any direction on a subject like this..it's up to them", the CJI said.

The Supreme Court had on August 8  given three more months to Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to sit together and take a considered view on formation of a minority Commission for the state.

At the outset a then bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar justices D Y Chandrachud and AK Goel took serious note of state government's affidavit which said it's Official's could not get time to coordinate with Official's of the centre on the issue as they were busy conducting Amaranth Yatra,law and order duties and a worsened situation.

"The Jammu and Kashmir affidavit makes fun of us. It's a disastrous affidavit. Anyway we are giving a last opportunity" CJI Khehar had said.

ASG Tushar Mehta had then  told the court that consultations regarding setting up of the Commission was at an advanced stage.

On May 1, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that a high level committee comprising of senior officials of the state and central government has been constituted take a considered decision on formation of a minority commission for Jammu and Kashmir.

It is headed by Union Secretary, Minority Affairs, Chief Secretary J&K and other members has been constituted pursuant to the last Supreme Court Order. One meeting has also been convened, the Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar

The mandate of the committee is to submit a joint proposal before Supreme Court suggesting as to how problems faced by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians of J&K owing to their non identification as  minorities shall be resolved.

On March 27 the court had asked representatives of  Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to sit together and take a considered decision on formation of a minority commission for the state

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre had said it is being examined and said state minority commission exists in many states. Chief Justice J S khehar had then told him that it is a very very important issue, given the  manner in which things have emerged and the nature of the petition before the court.

 “Deal with the contentious issue jointly”, Chief Justice J S Khehar had told Mehta and senior lawyer and former ASG who appeared for the Jammu and Kashmir state government.

The hearing took place after Jammu and Kashmir government in an affidavit  told the Supreme Court that it is opposed to creation of a minority commission in the state.

“Assertion of the PIL petitioner for setting up a state minority commission of the state of jammu and Kashmir through proper legislation including time-bound identification and notification of religious and linguistic minorities by the state is also not legally maintainable. It is for the concerned state/union territory to set up a minority commission in their respective state/union territory”, said the government’s affidavit.

The PIL filed by a Jammu-based lawyer Ankur Sharma said according to the 2011 census, about 68.3 per cent of the state's population are Muslims. Among the minorities, 28.4 per cent are Hindus, followed by Sikhs (1.9 per cent), Buddhists (0.9 per cent), and Christians (0.3 per cent). In Kashmir valley, about 96.4 per cent are Muslims, followed by Hindus (2.45 per cent), Sikhs (0.98 per cent) and others (0.17 per cent).

Sharma argued that Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir are unable to benefit from central and state welfare schemes for minorities.

 In the absence of a minority commission, the benefits exclusively meant for the minority communities including crores worth aid are being given away to a certain community, which is the majority Muslim community, in an illegal and arbitrary manner,” said the PIL.