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SC issues notice to Modi Govt, seeking a definition of Minority & Guidelines for their Identification

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The Supreme Court Tuesday sought government”s reply on a plea, seeking declare five communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsees — as minorities even in those states and UTs where they are in majority.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Minority Affairs.

This will help Court to establish the constitutional validity of section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, under which the notification was issued on October 23, 1993.

The notification had declared the five communities as minorities across the country, leading to a situation where the majority population of Sikhs in Punjab and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir is availing of the benefits meant for minorities, the transfer petition alleged. There is an urgent need for the identification and declaration of minority status based on ground realities.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking transfer of all cases from high courts to the apex court for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue.

The petition, filed by Ashwani Kumar Dubey, said that in order to avoid multiplicity of litigations and conflicting views, the transfer plea has been moved before the apex court.

Arbitrary and irrational disbursement of minority benefits to the majority infringes upon the fundamental right to the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

The petition said the Hindus, who are a majority community according to national data, are a minority in several north-eastern states besides Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. 

However, the Hindu community is deprived of the benefits that are available to the minority communities in these states, the plea said, adding that the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) should reconsider the definition of minority in this context.

The plea has sought to declare section 2(c) of the NCM Act 1992 void and inoperative for being arbitrary, unreasonable, and offending.

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