States Can Grant Hindus Minority Status: Centre tells Apex Court

 - Sakshi Post

The Central government has left it to the discretion of states to grant the minority status to any religious or linguistic community including Hindus. The Centre told the Supreme Court while submitting an affidavit to a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. The Centre in its affidavit said it is open for States and Union Territories (UTs) to notify Hindus as a religious or linguistic community where they are less in number.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs while responding to the plea said, the Maharashtra government has notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the state. “Therefore in view of the states also notifying minority communities, the petitioners’ allegation that the followers of Judaism, Bahaism, and Hinduism, who are real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Manipur cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice is not correct,” it said. 

The BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has challenged the validity of Section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) Act, 2004. As per this act, the central government has notified six communities viz Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains as minorities at the national level. 

The Centre made it clear that the notification of any community specific to a state as a minority comes under the purview of the state concerned. The petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in his plea sought directions from the apex court for framing guidelines identifying minorities at the state level contending that Hindus are a minority in 10 states and are not eligible to avail the benefits of schemes for minorities. 

The petitioner contended that the 2011 census showed that Hindus are merely 1% in Ladakh, 2.75% in Mizoram, 2.77% in Lakshadweep, 4% in Jammu and Kashmir, 8.74% in Nagaland, 11.52% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49% in Punjab, and 41.29% in Manipur.

Questioning the creation of the National Minority Commission and the Minority Education Commission, the petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay argued that the Centre created these institutions to “divide and rule”.

The term “minorities” is not defined under Indian laws, though it is mentioned in some Articles of the Constitution. Article 29 and Article 30 talk about the protection of the interests of minorities and the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions respectively.

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