India

Consultation with States on Minority Identification: The Supreme Court to the Center -by Ecork

Hindus are a minority in 10 states? The Supreme Court is hearing the case today.

New Delhi:

Today, the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure with the Center taking different positions on the issue of identifying minorities, including Hindus, at the state level and directed it to hold consultations with states on this issue within three months.

In reversing its previous position, the Center on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the power to notify minorities is vested in the Union Government, and any decision in this regard will be taken after discussion with states and other stakeholders.

The center had said in March that states and union territories (UTs) should receive a call on whether or not to grant minority status to Hindus and other communities in which they are fewer.

A panel of Justices SK Cole and MM Sundrich said in a matter like this, an affidavit is given that both the Center and the State have powers.

“Later, you say the center has powers. In a country like ours, which has a lot of diversity, we understand that but someone should have been more careful. Before making these affidavits, everything is in the public domain which has its own consequences. So, You should be more careful what you say,” the lecturer noted.

In dictating the order, the court said, “A new affidavit has been submitted by the Ministry of Minority Affairs which appears to be retracting what was said in the previous affidavit. Something we do not appreciate. It now seeks to state that the question at hand has far-reaching ramifications across the country.” .

“The position has already been taken in the first affidavit. But according to a new affidavit, the authority is vested in the central government to identify minorities… As we mentioned, given the situation, it is necessary that the center take the exercise as proposed list on August 30.”

The Supreme Court also refused to accept a petition by a social and cultural organization based in Meghalaya seeking to intervene in the matter and asked it to contact the representation authorities.

Attorney General Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the center, asked for three months to conduct consultations with the states and acknowledged that some TPA are being deposited while at the same time being transferred into the public domain.

“We cannot provide an affidavit without providing it to the other party and at the moment we serve it in the public domain,” Mr. Mehta said. The issues were discussed.

The Supreme Court said these are matters that need to be resolved and not everything can be decided.

As the hearing commenced, a junior lawyer asked to pass, saying that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was busy in another court.

“What I cannot understand is that the Union of India is not able to make a decision on what to do. All this thinking should have been thought before. This creates uncertainty and all of this is in the public domain before we even set our eyes on it. And that Another problem situation creates.” The arbitrator then remarked, “If the center wants to consult the states, we will have to make a call. The solution cannot be that everything is too complicated, we will do it. This cannot be answered by the Government of India. You decide what you want to do. If you You want to consult them do it. Who is stopping you from doing that?”

The Supreme Court said: “These are matters that require resolution. Taking different positions does not help. If consultations were required, they should have taken place prior to the submission of the affidavit.”

The Supreme Court had earlier given the center four weeks to respond to the petition, which sought guidance to frame minority identification guidelines statewide, holding that Hindus are a minority in 10 states.

In an affidavit filed in response to a petition filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the Ministry of Minority Affairs said the central government had informed six communities as minorities under Section 2c of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992.

“It is recognized that the matter contained in the petition has far-reaching ramifications across the country and therefore any position taken without detailed deliberations with stakeholders may result in unintended complication of the country.

“Although the power is vested in the central government for notification of minorities, the position that the central government will formulate with respect to the issues raised in this group of petitions will be finalized after extensive consultations with state governments and other stakeholders,” the affidavit said.

This will ensure that the central government is able to present a well-thought-out view before the Supreme Court taking into account many social, logical and other aspects to avoid any unintended complications in the future related to such a vital issue, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs had earlier told the Supreme Court that state governments can declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, to be a minority within the said state.

The Ministry also provided that questions regarding whether followers of Hinduism, Judaism, and Baha’iism can establish and run educational institutions of their choice in the said states and those related to their identification as a minority within the state can be considered at the state level.

Mr Upadiye has challenged the validity of Section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Act 2004, claiming that it gives absolute power to the center and describing it as “arbitrary, irrational and clearly degrading”.

Section 2(f) of the Act empowers the Center to identify and notify minority communities in India.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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