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Supreme Court imposes Rs 7,500 cost on Centre for not filing counter to plea

During the hearing, the Apex Court also allowed the petition against the ongoing cases in various High Courts urging to declare Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as minorities and merged it with the main petition.

Expressing displeasure at the Centre for not clearing its stand, the Supreme Court on Monday imposed a Rs 7,500 fine on the Union Government and granted it four more weeks to file its reply on the plea challenging the provisions of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

The bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh said the Centre can’t keep sending letter circulars and should take a stand. To this, Additional Solicitor General K.M. Natraj said the delay in filing the counter-affidavit was due to the serious circumstances due to Covid-19. He assured the bench that the reply will be filed within two weeks or so since it was just waiting for final approval.

The petitioner, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, also opposed the letter circular of the Centre to postpone the hearing. In August 2020, the Court had issued notice to the Centre and gave it a last chance to file its reply on the petition. However, the Centre has not filed its reply yet.

During the hearing, the Apex Court also allowed the petition against the ongoing cases in various High Courts urging to declare Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as minorities and merged it with the main petition.

Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had demanded the determination of state-wise minorities. Apart from this, he had also challenged the constitution of the Minorities Commission and Minority Education Commission. Upadhyay, in his petition, had sought transfer of various petitions challenging the notification of the Centre declaring minorities in different High Courts. These petitions were also transferred to the Supreme Court.

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