IDENTIFICATION OF MINORITIES: SC grants Centre 6 weeks for consultation with stakeholders

Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India. File/ GK

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted six weeks to the Centre after it sought more time for wider consultation with stakeholders on the issue of identification of minorities, including Hindus, at the state level.

The apex court perused the status report filed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs which said meetings were held with the states on the issue.

“It is stated in the status report that meetings with state governments have been held and some more time is required to have a wider consultation with all stakeholders. Six weeks’ time is sought for the said purpose,” said a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka.

The top court was hearing the pleas, including one filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which sought directions for framing guidelines for the identification of minorities at the state level, contending that Hindus are in minority in 10 states.

The bench, which posted the matter for resumed hearing on October 19, observed the government has said it is in consultation with the states concerned.

In the status report submitted to the court, the ministry said comments/views of the state governments including those of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and UT of Jammu & Kashmir have not been received as of date.

On May 10, the apex court had expressed displeasure over the Centre’s shifting stand on the issue of identification of minorities, including Hindus, at the state level and directed it to hold consultations with the states within three months.

In supersession of its earlier stand, the Centre had told the apex court the power to notify minorities is vested with the Union government and any decision with regard to the issue will be taken after discussion with states and other stakeholders.

The Centre had in March said it was for the states and Union Territories (UTs) to take a call on whether or not to grant minority status to Hindus and other communities where they are less in number.

Upadhyay has challenged the validity of section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act, 2004, alleging that it gives unbridled power to the Centre and termed it “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, and offending”.

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