In its ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that the central government has three months time to hold consultations with state governments on the issue of granting minority status to Hindus in the states where they are numerically less as compared to other groups and communities.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said it does not appreciate the Centre changing its stands on the plea seeking minority status for Hindus in some states.
“Taking different stands does not help, consultation should have taken place before the affidavit was filed. How can in a matter like this the affidavit first be filed that both Centre and State have power? Number of dates were given. Somebody should have been careful,” Justice Kaul said.
The bench also instructed the Centre that it should consult with state governments regarding granting minority status to Hindus where they are outnumbered by other communities.
Yesterday, the centre informed the SC that the power to notify minorities resides with the Union Government, which will then consult relevant state governments and other stakeholders.
While filing the affidavit on Monday, the Ministry of Minority Affairs stated that the Central government has notified six communities as minority communities under section 2C of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
“The question involved in the writ petition 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,” stated the affidavit filed on a plea of advocate Ashwini Upadhyay.
It added, “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. This will ensure that the central government is able to place a considered view before this court taking into consideration several sociological, and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in the future concerning such a vital issue.”
Upadhyay’s plea is based on the 2011 Census of India, according to which Hindus are a minority in Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab.