The Supreme Court today granted four weeks time to Jammu and Kashmir government to take a final stand on constituting a state minority commission.
This was after Attorney General K K Venugopal who appeared for Centre submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the state had shown disinterest in the joint meeting of Centre and state officials to discuss the issue, as directed by the court.
Though initially they had shown interest now they have taken a different stand, the AG said.
Earlier in an affidavit the state government said it has no plans to set up a minority Commission.
"Implementation of National Commission of Minority Act is not binding but is the sole prerogative of the state", the affidavit said.
"However we will consider as and when situation arises", the state said.
On the last date 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 had told a bench headed by then Chief Justice J S Khehar
The mandate of the committee was 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.