Center changing goalposts over ‘minority status’ leaves supreme court furious
Supreme Court Tuesday dissatisfaction expressed on the Center taking different positions on the issue of identification of minorities, including Hindus, at the state level and directed it to hold consultations with states on the matter within three months. Changing its earlier position, the Center told the Supreme Court on Monday that the power to notify minorities rests with the Union government and that any decision in this regard would be made after discussion with States and other stakeholders.
The Center had said in March that it was up to states and union territories (UTs) to take a call on whether to grant minority status to Hindus and other communities where they are less numerous. The bench of judges SK Kaul and MM Sundresh said in a case like this that an affidavit is filed that the Center and the State both have powers. “Later you say the Center has powers. In a country like ours, which has so much diversification, we understand, but someone should have been more careful. Before these affidavits are filed, everything is in the public domain, which has its own consequences. Therefore, you must be More careful in what you say,” observed the bench expressing displeasure.
The bench said: “A new affidavit has been filed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs which seems to contradict what was said in the previous affidavit. Something we don’t appreciate. It is now requested that it be found that the question to be decided has deep ramifications Across the country.
“The position has already been taken in the first affidavit. But according to the new affidavit, the power is vested in the central government of identify minorities…This being the position, it is necessary that the exercise be taken by the Center as proposed. List on August 30,” the bench said while looking for a status report three days before the hearing.
“What I cannot understand is that the Union of India is unable to decide What to do. All this thought should have been given before. It creates uncertainty and it’s all in the public domain before we put our eyes on it. This creates another problemthe judges said during the hearing when the Center asked for more time.
The Supreme Court had previously granted four weeks to the Center to respond to a plea, which requested direction for the development of state-level minority identification guidelines, asserting that Hindus are in the minority in 10 states. In an affidavit filed in response to a plea filed by counsel Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaythe Ministry of Minority Affairs said the central government had notified six communities as minority communities under section 2C of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs previously told the Supreme Court that state governments can declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, a minority within the said State. The ministry had also argued that issues relating to the ability of followers of Hinduism, Judaism and Bahaism to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice in those states and issues relating to their identification in as a minority within the state could be considered for the exam. At the state level.
Upadhyay had challenged the validity of Article 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Act, 2004, alleging that it gives unbridled power to the Center and called it “grossly arbitrary, irrational and offensive”. Section 2(f) of the Act empowers the Center to identify and notify minority communities in India.
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