SC Directs Minority Commission To Decide On Representation Seeking Guidelines For Identifying "Minorities" [Read Order]

SC Directs Minority Commission To Decide On Representation Seeking Guidelines For Identifying "Minorities" [Read Order]

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Commission for Minority (NCM) to take a decision within three months on a representation seeking laying down of guidelines for defining the term 'minority' in the context of state-wise population of a community.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay to re-file his representation to the minority panel which, in turn, will take a decision on it within three months from Monday.

Upadhyay had filed a writ petition [WP(C) 1064/2017] to declare the Notification dated 23.10.1993, arbitrary unreasonable and ultra-vires the Constitution but withdrew it with liberty to approach National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and accordingly, submitted a Representation on 17.11.2017.

According to him the NCM has done nothing over the past 15 months. Hence, he filed this writ petition to declare Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, and the Notification dated 23.10.1993, void and unconstitutional for being arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Petitioner has contended that those who are not entitled to minority protections under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, exemptions under Articles 15(5) and (6) of the Constitution, provisions of the Right to Education Act and welfare programmes of the Government, etc., are enjoying these measures. This is a clear violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

"Denial of minority rights to real minorities and arbitrary and unreasonable disbursement of minority benefits to majority, infringes upon fundamental right to prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth [Article 15(1)]; impairs the right to equality of opportunity in matters related to public employment [Article 16(1)]; and freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion [Article 25(1)]. It also erodes the obligation of the State 'to endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities' [Article 38 (2)]. Therefore, this Hon'ble Court may declare the Section 2(c) of the NCM Act and Notification dated 23.10.1993, arbitrary, invalid and ultra-virus the Constitution"

The petition is filed with the following prayers;

a) direct and declare that Section 2(c) of the NCM Act 1992 is void and inoperative for being arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India;

b) direct and declare that the Notification on Minority Community dated 23.10.1993 [1993 –SO No.816(E) F.No.1/11/93-MC(D)] is void and inoperative for being arbitrary unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India;

c) direct the Government to define "Minorities" and lay down guidelines for their identification, to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups, which are socially economically and politically non-dominant and numerically inferior, may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30, with the State being the unit of determination;

d) in the alternative to prayer (c), direct and declare that only those religious and linguistic groups of Indian citizens, which are socially economically and politically non-dominant and numerically not more than 1 % of total population of that respective State, may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30 of the Constitution;