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PIL in Supreme Court challenges constitutional validity of National Commission for Minorities Act

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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court has challenged the constitutional validity of Section 2 (C) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act 1992, terming it ‘arbitrary’ and ‘contrary’ to the Constitution.

The petition, filed by Devkinandan Thakur Ji through Advocate Ashutosh Dubey, sought directions to the Centre to define ‘minority’ and lay down guidelines for the identification of minorities at district level, in order to ensure that the religious and linguistic groups, which were socially, economically and politically non-dominant and numerically very inferior, got the benefits and protections guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30.

The PIL gave details about the population of Hindus in nine states, where they were in minority.

It said there were merely 1 per cent Hindus in Ladakh, 2.75 per cent in Mizoram, 2.77 per cent in Lakshadweep, 4 per cent in Kashmir, 8.74 per cent in Nagaland, 11.52 per cent in Meghalaya, 29 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49 per cent in Punjab and 41.29 per cent in Manipur, however, the Central government had not declared them minority under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act and Section 2 (f) of the National Commission For Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) Act.

Therefore, the Hindus were not protected under Articles 29 and 30 and cannot establish-administer educational institution of their choice, it added.

As per the PIL, the Central government, using unbridled power under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, arbitrarily notified five communities, namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis, as minority at national level.

It said the followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism, who were real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, were still not able to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice because of non-identification of minority at the state level, thus jeopardising their basic rights guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30

The PIL alleged that their right under Articles 29 and 30 was being siphoned off illegally to the majority community in the state because the Centre has not notified them as minority under the NCM Act.

Speaking about Muslims, the petition said they were in majority in Lakshadweep (96.58 per cent) and Kashmir (96 per cent), while they have a significant population in Ladhakh (44 per cent), Assam (34.20 per cent), Bengal (27.5 per cent), Kerala (26.60 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (19.30 per cent) and Bihar (18 per cent), where they can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Christians are a majority in Nagaland (88.10 per cent), Mizoram (87.16 per cent) and Meghalaya (74.59 per cent), and there is significant population in Arunachal, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu & West Bengal, can also establish and administer,” it read. Likewise, Sikhs are a majority in Punjab and there is large population in Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana, but they can establish and administer. Similarly, Buddhists are majority in Ladakh, but they can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice, the PIL added.

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