Monday, September 26, 2022

Plea challenging constitutional validity of National Commission for Minorities Act before Supreme Court withdrawn

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition as withdrawn that challenged the constitutional validity of the Places of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, directing the petitioner to seek impleadment in the plea, which was already pending before the Court on the same matter. 

The Bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Indira Banerjee asked Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur, representing the petitioner, why the same matter was coming up again and again. The Counsel replied that the parties were different in the present case. 

The CJI then observed that this was causing multiplicity of proceedings and increasing the load on courts as each filed petition was treated as a new listing.

The petitioner withdrew the plea and was given liberty to seek impleadment in the pending matters. 

It had sought declaration of the provisions under Sections 2(c) of the Places of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 as being violative of and ultra vires the Articles 14, 15, 21 and 29 of the Constitution, as well as the principles of secularism. 

The petition pointed out that the population of Hindus was merely one percent in Ladakh, 2.75 percent in Mizoram, 2.77 percent in Lakshadweep, 4 percent in Kashmir, 8.74 percent in Nagaland, 11.52 percent in Meghalaya, 29 percent in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49 percent in Punjab and 41.29 percent in Manipur.

The Government of India, however, had not declared them as minority under Section 2(c) of the Act, noted the plea.

It said the Hindus were not protected under Articles 29-30 and could not establish or administer educational institutions of their choice.

It added that the Centre has recognised Muslims as minorities arbitrarily under Section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act, despite the fact that Muslims account for 96.58 percent of the population in Lakshadweep, 95 percent in Kashmir, and 46 percent in Ladakh. 

As per the plea, Christians, who make up 88.10 percent of the population in Nagaland, 87.16 percent in Mizoram, and 74.59 percent in Meghalaya, have been classified a minority by the Union of India, allowing them to build and operate their own educational institutions. 

Sikhs make up 57.69 percent of the population in Punjab and Buddhists make up 50 percent in Ladakh, and they can create and govern educational institutions, whereas Bahaism and Judaism have only 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent of the population, respectively, it pointed out.

The petition further said that the Union Government, exercising the unbridled powers conferred by Section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act, arbitrarily notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis as minority communities vide notification dated October 23, 1993, without either defining minority or framing guidelines for identification at the state level. 

It added that Jains were added to the list in 2014, despite the fact that a three-judge Bench of the Apex Court had emphatically declined in the Bal Patil case to award them minority status.

Case title: Chandra Shekhar vs UOI

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