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Central Govt. Not Empowered To Redetermine Minority Status: Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Minority Status Of Christians and Muslims In State

Hannah M Varghese
29 July 2021 4:35 PM GMT
Central Govt. Not Empowered To Redetermine Minority Status: Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Minority Status Of Christians and Muslims In State
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The Kerala High Court on Thursday ruled that no power is vested with the Central Government to redetermine minority status. A Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed as follows in a PIL challenging the minority status continued to the Muslim and Christian communities in the State:"The petitioner has sought for a writ of mandamus commanding the...

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The Kerala High Court on Thursday ruled that no power is vested with the Central Government to redetermine minority status. 

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed as follows in a PIL challenging the minority status continued to the Muslim and Christian communities in the State:

"The petitioner has sought for a writ of mandamus commanding the first respondent ie., the Union of India, to redetermine the minority status of Muslims and Christian communities in Kerala taking into account the Kerala State as a unit. In our view, there is no power vested with the Central Government to redetermine the minority status under the provisions of either Act, 1992 or Act, 2004."

The Court also made a significant observation in the matter:

"Merely because there are a few people who are rich in the minority communities, one cannot be expected to understand that their richness is due to them belonging to minority communities and further merely for that factor, it cannot be taken for granted that the entire members of the minority communities are economically and socially advanced."

The petition was filed by an organization earlier this month to point out that no enactments have defined the term 'minority' and to contend that minority rights are not defined anywhere in the Constitution. On this ground, they alleged that the Muslim, as well as the Christian communities, are not entitled to enjoy any constitutional status in the guise of the minority communities.

Responding to this contention, the Court observed that Article 29 clearly protects the interests of minorities, and clause (1) thereto clearly specifies that any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

Similarly, the Division Bench noticed that Article 30 protects the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions and clause (1) thereto clearly specifies that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

The Court added that although Article 14 guarantees equal protection of laws, it only prohibits class legislation and not reasonable classification for the purpose of the legislation.

Likewise, the Bench observed that Article 15 makes it clear that nothing in the provision ir Article 29(2) shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

"Therefore, on an analysis of the provisions of the Constitution and its multifaceted principles and theories, it is abundantly clear that the framers of the Constitution were very conscious about the realities and other dynamic ethos that were prevailing in the nation in regard to the social, economic and other material aspects among the weaker sections and minorities, and that is why the interests of the backward classes and the socially educationally, and economically weak are very well protected under the Constitution of India," the Court opined.

Moreover, it was added that the powers and functions of the Commission under the respective acts are independent and judicious in nature thus debarring the Central and State Governments from interfering with such powers and functions in any manner. 

When there was a National Minorities Commission set up for this purpose, it was unnecessary for the Centre or the State to interfere with the matter, the Court ruled. 

The petition was accordingly dismissed. 

Click Here To Read The Order


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