SC asks NCM to decide on defining term of minorities

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to consider a representation by a Delhi BJP leader and advocate for laying down guidelines for defining the term 'minorities' at the state level.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said that the NCM should decide the representation preferably within a period of three months.

Senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil, appearing for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, submitted that the top court had on November 10, 2017, asked him to approach the NCM with the plea but no action was taken despite a representation.

The petitioner claimed that the Hindus who formed 2-3% in Northeastern states are treated as majority, while Christians who are 80 to 90% get the benefits of being minorities.

He said that the term “minorities” should be defined afresh and guidelines must be laid down for their identification at the state level.

It must be ensured that only those religious and linguistic groups, which are socially, economically and politically non-dominant and numerically inferior, may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30, with the state being the unit of determination, the petitioner said.

“In the alternative, there should be a direction and declaration that only those religious and linguistic groups of Indian citizens, which are socially economically and politically non-dominant and numerically not more than 1% of total population of that respective state, may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30 of the Constitution,” he pleaded.

The petitioner further submitted that the Union Government through its notification under the NCM Act, 1992, on October 23, 1993, notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as national minorities.

In 2014, Jains have also been notified as national minorities by the central government.

However, many states have not legislated State Minority Commission Act providing for a state minority commission to safeguard the interests of religious and linguistic minorities in the state.

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SC asks NCM to decide on defining term of minorities

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