Plea Seeking Re-defining 'Minority' Based On State-wise Data: SC Seeks AG's View

Plea Seeking Re-defining

On the submission that the declaration of communities as minorities based on national data is illegal, the Supreme Court on Friday requested Attorney General K. K. Venugopal's views on defining minorities in accordance with state-wise population data instead.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which was hearing BJP Leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay's plea, required a copy of the petition to be shared with the AG, calling for the top law officer's assistance in the matter.

The petition is now scheduled for hearing after 4 weeks. Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Upadhyay.

The PIL challenges validity of Section 2(c) of the NCM Act 1992 and Notification [1993 –so no. 816(e) (d)] dated 23.10.1993; for being manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India.

In his petition, the BJP leader has said Hindus, who are a majority community as per national data, are a minority in several north-eastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the Hindu community is deprived of benefits which are available to the minority communities in these states, the plea has said, adding that NCM should reconsider the definition of minority in this context.

The definition of "minority" as per Article 29-30 has left leakages in the hands of state, which shall be misused and are being misused for political benefits, the petition said, adding that the minority status be granted to Hindus in states where the number of the community has decreased.

The plea has sought minority status for Hindus in seven states and one Union Territory where the number of the community has fallen, according to the Census 2011.

It has stated that as per 2011 Census, Hindus are minority in eight states -- Lakshadweep (2.5 per cent), Mizoram (2.75 per cent), Nagaland (8.75 per cent), Meghalaya (11.53 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (28.44 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (29 per cent), Manipur (31.39 per cent) and Punjab (38.40 per cent).

It has stated that Christians are in 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 a majority in Punjab and there is a significant population in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana but they are treated as a minority, it has said.

Muslims are a majority in Lakshadweep (96.20 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (68.30 per cent) and there is a significant population of the community in Assam (34.20 pc), West Bengal (27.5 pc), Kerala (26.60 pc), Uttar Pradesh (19.30 pc) and Bihar (18 pc).

However, they are enjoying 'minority' status, and communities, which are real minorities, are not getting their legitimate share, jeopardizing their basic rights guaranteed under the Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, the petition has said.

The following questions have been raised in the petition.

I. Whether Section 2(c) of NCM Act confers unbridled power to the Executive

II. Whether the Notification dated 23.10.1993 declaring Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsi as minority, is arbitrary, unreasonable and offends Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India

III. Whether the Executive has disregarded the principles set by Court in TMA Pai Case

IV. Whether there is a need to define "Minority" under Article 30(1)