New Delhi, May 9
Maintaining that the demand for minority status for Hindus in nine states and union territories has far-reaching consequences, the Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will spell out its stand on the issue after detailed consultations with states and other stakeholders.
“The question involved in the writ petitions has far-reaching ramifications throughout the country, and therefore, any stand taken without detailed deliberations with the stakeholders may result in an unintended complication for the country,” the Ministry of Minority Affairs said in an affidavit filed in the top court.
The affidavit has been filed in response to Delhi BJP leader advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s petition related to the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 and the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, which came under the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Minority Affairs respectively.
Upadhyay has sought minority status for Hindus in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep on the ground that Hindus were numerically lower strength in these states/UTs. He wanted the top court to direct the Centre to lay down guidelines for identification of minorities at the state level, contending Hindus were in minority in several states and were unable to avail the benefits of schemes meant for minorities.
A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul—which had on January 7 imposed a cost of Rs 7,500 on the Centre for not spelling out its stand despite repeated reminders—is likely to take up the matter on May 10.
“Though the power is vested with the central government to notify minorities, the stand to be formulated by the central government with regard to issues raised in this group of petitions will be finalised after having a wide consultation with the state governments and other stakeholders,” the affidavit read.
“This will ensure that the central government is able to place a considered view before the apex court taking into consideration several social, logical, and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in the future concerning such a vital issue,” it submitted.
A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had on March 28 asked the Centre to clarify as to which ministry would deal with the demand to declare Hindus as “minority” in states and union territories where they were numerically inferior after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought to distance itself from it.
State governments can declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, a minority within the said state, the Ministry of Minority Affairs had earlier submitted.