HC directs Centre to clarify its stand on minority tag for Lingayats

HC directs Centre to clarify its stand on minority tag for Lingayats

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday directed the Union government to convey its stand on the recommendation sent by the state government to it, requesting to declare Lingayats as religious minority.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice B M Shyam Prasad passed the order while hearing a batch of public interest litigations (PILs) challenging formation of the committee by the state government in December 2017 to examine demands to accord religion status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva faiths.

Additional Solicitor General of India Prabhuling K Navadgi, representing Central government, submitted before the court that the Centre has not received any information regarding the recommendation made by the state government. He further sought time to seek information from Ministry of Home Affairs.

Justice Maheshwari refused to accept his submission and asked him whether the Centre has done anything on the notification. He also asked him to clearly inform the court without any delay on the Centre's stand -  whether they are going to proceed with the recommendations or not.

Advocate General Madhusudan R Naik submitted that on March 22, the state government has issued a notification according religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva faiths and also sent the recommendation to Central government.

The bench asked Nayak to file an affidavit in this regard. It gave clear instructions to the Central government make clear its stand on the issue.

Advocate G R Gurumath, representing one of the petitioners, submitted that the state government issued notification in a hurry keeping in mind that model code of conduct will come into force and accepted the recommendation submitted by the expert committee headed by retired high court judge Justice H N Nagmohan Das.

Lakshmi Iyengar, another advocate representing the petitioners, submitted that the state government has provided minority status to
Lingayat going beyond its jurisdiction.

After hearing the submission, the bench adjourned the hearing to April 13.

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