Religion must be considered pan-India: SC

Religion must be considered pan-India: SC

Supreme Court of India. (File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea for laying down guidelines for defining the term 'minority' in the context of state-wise population of a community.

“Languages are restricted to a state and in fact, states were reorganised on the basis of language, but it is not so about religion that is pan India. Numbers are taken throughout the country to determine who is a minority,” a bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, declining to consider a PIL by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini K Upadhyay.

Senior advocate Mohan Parasaran, representing the petitioner, sought to point out that according to the 2011 Census, Hindus are in minority in eight states. He cited an instance of Lakshadweep (2.5 percent) where the Hindus were of the minuscule minority. Other states, where Hindus were in minority are Mizoram (2.75 percent), Nagaland (8.75 percent), Meghalaya (11.53 percent), J&K (28.44 percent), Arunachal Pradesh (29 percent), Manipur (31.39 percent) and Punjab (38.40 percent).

Attorney General K K Venugopal said the apex court had dealt with the issue of minorities in different Constitution bench decisions particularly in T M A Pai and P A Inamdar cases and defined it as on a linguistic basis.

On this, the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said, “Why should we take the state as a unit to determine minorities?”

The court also did not agree to plea for framing any guidelines for declaring a community as a minority, saying, “Who does not know who is Hindu, Muslims and Parsis. How can there be guidelines?”

Upadhyay, in his plea, has said that the term minority needed to be redefined and reconsidered in the context of the population of a community in a state, instead of nationwide population data.

The court had earlier twice referred the plea by the petitioners to the National Commission for Minorities.

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