BJP leader and advocate Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking minority status to Hindus in 8 states. The apex court asked him to approach the minority panel.
NEW DELHI — The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has sought to steer clear of the demand for minority status to the Hindu community in eight states of the country saying the power to accord minority status to any community lies with the Parliament.
NCM Chairman Syed Ghayurul Hasan Rizvi said this when asked about his stand on the issue following the Supreme Court asking the petitioner with the demand to approach the minority panel as it is the “most competent authority”.
“The Supreme Court has asked them (the petitioner) to approach the minority commission. They have not yet come to us. We will take decision within the parameters of the Constitution. It is Parliament’s prerogative to accord minority status to a community,” said Rizvi.
Petition By BJP Leader
The Supreme Court on Friday asked petitioner Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya to approach the National Commission for Minorities. After this the petition was withdrawn. Upadhyaya is a leader of BJP in Delhi.
“We cannot issue such orders. Go to the Commission…they are the most competent body”, a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi was quoted as saying by LiveLaw.in.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Arvind Datar argued that NCM only dealt with national level issues and did not look into each state’s demand and therefore the SC could decide but the bench wasn’t impressed.
The petitioner had demanded that Hindus be declared a minority in these eight states where they are in minority. As per Census 2011, Hindus are a minority in Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).
The PIL had also alleged that the minority rights of Hindus in these states are being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily to the majority population because neither Central nor the state governments have notified Hindus as a ‘minority’ under Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minority Act. Therefore, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights, guaranteed under Articles 25 to 30.”
To strengthen his point further, the petitioner said that Muslims are in majority in some states like Lakshdweep (96.20%) and Jammu and Kashmir (68.30%) and constitute more than 25% of the population in Assam (34.20%), West Bengal (27.5%) and Kerala (26.60%), but they are enjoying the ‘minority’ status there.
Religious Minorities in India
Six religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified as minority communities by the Union Government. Jains were accorded the status by the then Congress-led UPA government in January 2014.
Role of Minority Commission
The National Commission for Minorities was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. As per Section 9(1) of the Act, the Commission is required to perform following functions:
(a) Evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States;
(b) Monitoring working of the safeguards for minorities provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
(c) Making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments;
(d) Looking into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and taking up such matters with the appropriate authorities;
(e) Getting studies to be undertaken into the problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities and recommending measures for their removal;
(f) Conducting studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of minorities;
(g) Suggesting appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments;
(h) Making periodical or special reports to the Central Government or any matter pertaining to minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them; and
(i) Any other matter, which may be referred to it by the Central Government.