Centre has power to notify minorities, but need wider consultations, SC told

25

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has told the Supreme Court that though the power is vested with the Centre to notify minorities, but the emphasis should be having a wider consultation with states and other stakeholder in the view of plea seeking a direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines for identification of minorities at the state level saying the Hindus are in minority in 10 states.

In a counter affidavit, the Secretary, Minority Affairs said: “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 in this group of petitions will be finalised after having a wider consultation with the state governments and other stakeholders”.

The ministry added that the National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions Act (NCMEI Act), 2004 is passed by Parliament and under Section 2 (f) of it, minority for the purpose of the Act, means a community notified as such by the Central government. “Likewise, under section 2 (c ) of the National Commission for Minorities Act (NCM) minority has been defined as a community notified as such by the Central government”, it added.

The ministry said that wider consultation will ensure the cCentral government is able to place a considered view before the top court taking consideration several sociological and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in future with regard to such a vital issue. It also emphasiszed that the questions involved in the petitions have far-reaching ramifications throughout the country, therefore any stand taken without detailed deliberations with the stakeholders may result in an unintended complication for the country.

“The Central government has notified 6 communities as minority communities under Section 2 (c ) of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992.A The 6 minority communities notified by the Central government under Section 2 (c ) of the NMC Act, 1992 have also been adopted for the purpose of section 2 (f) of the NCMEI Act, 2004”, added the affidavit.

The ministry said the Central government undertook a detailed intra-ministerial discussion based upon which it decided to file the present affidavit in supersession of its earlier affidavit.

In a previous affidavit filed in March, the Ministry had said: “It is submitted that the state governments can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a minority community within the said state. For instance, the government of Maharashtra has notified Jews as a minority community within the state of Maharashtra.”

The ministry said that certain states, where Hindus or other communities are less in number, can declare them a minority community within its territory, to enable them set up and administer their own institutions.

The top court is scheduled to take up the matter on Tuesday.

The ministry’s response came on a plea filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines for identification of minority at the state level saying the Hindus are in minority in 10 states and they are not able to avail the benefits of schemes meant for minorities.

The ministry, however, said the allegations made by Upadhyay in the PIL that “followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism, who are minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, can’t establish and administer their institutions of choice is not correct”.

“It is submitted that matters such as declaring that followers of Judaism… Hinduism, who are minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Manipur, can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice in the said state and laying down guidelines for identification of minority at state level may be considered by the concerned state government.”

20220509-212220

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here