10 May 2022 1:58 AM GMT
In a plea seeking minority status for Hindus in States where they are numerically less in number, the Central Government has filed a fresh affidavit in supersession of the previous affidavit which said that it is for the States to take a call on giving minority status. In the latest affidavit filed yesterday (May 9), the Centre says that it has the power to notify minorities, but a stand in...
In a plea seeking minority status for Hindus in States where they are numerically less in number, the Central Government has filed a fresh affidavit in supersession of the previous affidavit which said that it is for the States to take a call on giving minority status. In the latest affidavit filed yesterday (May 9), the Centre says that it has the power to notify minorities, but a stand in this regard can be taken only after "wide consultations with State Governments and other stakeholders" to avoid "unintended complications in future".
"After filing of the aforesaid affidavit(dated 28 March, 2022), the Central Government undertook a detailed intraministerial discussion based upon which it is decided to file the present affidavit in supersession of the earlier affidavit" stated the affidavit, filed through the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.
The counter-affidavit is filed in the PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyay seeking minority status for Hinduism, Bahaism and Judaism in states like Mizoram,Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur and Union Territories of Ladakh and Lakshadweep. The PIL also questioned the competence of the Parliament to enact the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 and National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act 2004 and the power of the Central Government to notify minorities.
In the affidavit filed on March 28, the Ministry had said that the Hindus in States where they are in a minority can be notified as minorities for the purposes of Articles 29 &30 by the concerned State Government. Since states have the power to notify minorities, the petitioner's argument that the "real minorities" in the specified States are denied the protection of minority rights is untenable, the Centre had argued in the previous affidavit. The affidavit had also given the examples of states notifying religious and linguistic minorities.
"It is submitted that the questions involved in this writ petition has far reaching ramifications throughout the country and therefore, any stand taken without detailed deliberations with the stakeholders may result in an unintended complications for the country", the present affidavit states.
The affidavit sworn to by Ms. Renuka Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs, further states :
"I respectfully submit that though the power is vested with the Central Government to notify minorities, the stand to be formulated by the Central Government with regard to issues raised in this group of petitions will be finalised after having a wide consultation with State Governments and other stakeholders. This will ensure that the Central Government is able to place a considered view before this Hon'ble Court taking into consideration several sociological and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in future with regard to such a vital issue".
A bench headed by Justice SK Kaul is hearing the matter today. On the previous hearing date, the bench had sought a clarity on which Ministry should respond - whether the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The bench had noted that the Registry, in its office report dated March 28, 2022, has recorded the statement made by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is arrayed as the first respondent in the case, that it has no role in the matter as the National Commission for Minorities and the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions come under comes under the purview of the Ministry of Education (erstwhile MHRD) and Ministry of Minority Affairs respectively.
Update on May 10 : Minority Status For Hindus In Some States : Supreme Court Disapproves Centre Changing Its Stand; Seeks Report Of Consultation Process In 3 Months
Case Title : Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay versus Union of India WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 836 OF 2020