A public interest litigation has been filed before the Supreme Court praying that Hindus be notified as minority community in eight states and given their legitimate benefits.
The PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeks minority status for Hindus in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, J&K, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.
Upadhyay said Hindus are being treated as majority in these states despite being minority in population and are, therefore, illegitimately being deprived of benefits meant for minority communities.
He said, "The Union Government offered 20,000 scholarships in field of technical education for minority students. In J&K, Muslims are 68.30% and government allotted 717 out of 753 scholarships to Muslim students, but none to Hindu students citing Notification on Minority Communities dated 23.10.1993 which declares Muslim’s as minority, but not the Hindus."
The National Commission for Minority Act 1992 came into force on May 17, 1993. It extends to the whole of India except J&K. The Central Government through a notification dated October 23, 1993, notified five communities viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as ‘minority’ community.
"Jains were also added in the list in 2014, but not the Hindus, though they are minority in eight states," the PIL stated.
"According to 2011 Census, Hindus are monitory in eight states i.e. Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).
"But, 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 Section 2 (c) of the NCM Act. Therefore, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights, guaranteed under the Articles 25 to 30," it said.
Contending that the 1993 notification is against the basic structure of the Constitution, Upadhyay highlights how communities, which are in majority in a given state, are enjoying benefits meant for minority communities.
"Muslims are majority in Lakshdweep (96.20%) and J&K (68.30%) and there is significant population in Assam (34.20%), West Bengal (27.5%), Kerala (26.60%), Uttar Pradesh (19.30%) and Bihar (18%). However, they are enjoying the ‘minority’ status, and the communities which are real minorities, are not getting their legitimate share.
"Christians are majority in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland and there is significant population in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, but they are treated as minority. Likewise, Sikhs are majority in Punjab and there is significant population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana but they are also treated as minority," he said.
The PIL also contended: "The Prime Minister’s 15 Points Programme/scheme meant for religious and linguistic minorities is not being appropriately used, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal."