The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Indira Banerjee refused to entertain a plea seeking to declare the provisions of Places of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 being violative of Constitution, to avoid multiplicity of proceedings. While noting that parties were rushing to court after reading something in the newspaper, Justice Bhat remarked–
"Imagine the load on the courts. Each writ petition filed is a new listing."
At the outset, the bench enquired why the same matter was coming up again and again. Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur, appearing for the petitioner submitted that the parties were different in the present case. To this, CJI Lalit remarked–
"This is causing multiplicity of proceedings. Withdraw this and seek impleadment in the pending matter."
Accordingly, the matter was withdrawn with the liberty to seek impleadment in the pending matters.
The petition prayed for declaration of the provisions under Sections 2(c) of the Places of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 as being violative of and ultra vires the Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 as well as the principles of secularism. As per the petition, the population of Hindus was merely 1% in Ladakh, 2.75% in Mizoram, 2.77% in Lakshdweep, 4% in Kashmir, 8.74% in Nagaland, 11.52% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49% in Punjab and 41.29% in Manipur. However, the Central Government had not declared them 'minority' under Section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act. Thus, as per the petition, Hindus were not protected under Articles 29-30 and could not establish or administer educational institution of their choice. On the other hand, the petition submitted that–
"Central Government has recognised Muslims as minorities arbitrarily under S. 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act, despite the fact that Muslims account for 96.58 percent of the population in Lakshdweep, 95 percent in Kashmir, and 46 percent in Ladakh. Christians, who make up 88.10 percent of the population in Nagaland, 87.16 percent in Mizoram, and 74.59 percent in Meghalaya, have been classified a minority by the Central Government, allowing them to build and operate their own educational institutions. Similarly, Sikhs make up 57.69 percent of the population in Punjab and Buddhists make up 50 percent in Ladakh, and they can create and govern educational institutions, whereas Bahaism and Judaism have only 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent of the population, respectively."
The petition further stated that–
"The Central Government, in exercising the unbridled powers conferred by Section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act, arbitrarily notified five communities, namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis as "minority communities" vide Notification dated 23.10.1993, without defining "minority" or framing guidelines for identification at the state level. Jains were added to the list as the sixth minority in 2014, despite the fact that the three-judge bench of this Hon'ble Court in the Bal Patil Case had emphatically declined to award them "minority" status."
CASE TITLE: Chandra Shekhar v UOI W.P.(C) No. 465/2022