Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Politics Rule of Law

Hindus as minority: Centre flip-flops on power to notify minority status

Centre now asks the Supreme Court for more time to discuss with state governments the power to notify minority status

Sabrangindia 10 May 2022

Minority Status

Revising its earlier affidavit, the central government on May 10, 2022 said that it had the power to notify minorities, but requires time to consult with state governments and other stakeholders. In the earlier affidavit to the Supreme Court, it had said that states can declare Hindus as a minority if they are numerically less in number.

The government took this decision to avoid “unintended complications in future”. The Ministry of Minority Affairs said that the decision has far-reaching ramifications throughout India and as such requires detailed deliberations.

The court recorded the Centre's submission in its order as “... the question involved in this writ petition has far reaching ramifications throughout the Country and therefore any stand taken without detailed deliberations with stakeholders may result in unintended complications throughout the country.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Express reported Justice S K Kaul, presiding over a two-judge bench comprising Justice M M Sundresh, said that the Centre seemed to be backing out of what was stated earlier. He stressed that the court did not appreciate this.

The document was filed in response to a plea by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who sought minority status for practitioners of Hinduism, Bahaism and Judaism, in states like Mizoram, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur and union territories of Ladakh and Lakshadweep, reported LiveLaw.

According to the Indian Express, Upadhyay had first approached the top court with the demand for minority status for Hindus in 2017, and was sent to the National Commission For Minorities (NCM). The NCM told Upadhyay that only the Centre could grant the relief he was seeking. Accordingly, his current petition questioned the competence of the Parliament to enact the NCM Act 1992 and NCM Educational Institutions Act 2004 and the Centre’s powers to notify minorities.

The Ministry’s previous affidavit filed on March 28 said that Hindus in some states may be notified as a minority for the purposes of Articles 29 and 30 by concerned governments. Since states have the power to notify minorities, the argument that ‘real minorities’ in specified states are denied the protection of minority rights is untenable, the Centre said. As examples, it talked about states notifying religious and linguistic minorities.

The fresh three-page affidavit by Ministry Secretary Renuka Kumar said, “Though the power is vested with the central government to notify minorities, the stand to be formulated by the central government with regard to issues raised in this group of petitions will be finalised after having a wide consultation with the state governments and other stakeholders. This will ensure that the central government is able to place a considered view before this court taking into consideration several sociological and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in future with regard to such a vital issue.”

Earlier, the court fined the Centre with ₹ 7,500 for delay in complying. The Centre then sought to shift the onus on states and asked to dismiss Upadhyay’s plea. The Ministry said, “The reliefs sought by the petitioner are not in larger public or national interest.”

However on March 28, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta again sought time from a bench presided by Justice S K Kaul to submit a new affidavit. The court granted him four weeks, which again the Centre failed to comply with and submitted the document on March 9, a day before the scheduled date of hearing.

On Tuesday, a bench headed by Justice SK Kaul heard the matter. On the previous hearing date, the bench sought clarity as to which Ministry should respond - the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Minority Affairs? The former is arrayed as the first respondent in the case but has no role in the matter because the NCM and NCM for Minority Educational Institutions come under the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Minority Affairs respectively.

Related:

Jahangirpuri violence: Delhi Court refuses bail to eight accused
Cruel, diabolic, barbaric, gruesome and inhuman: Allahabad High Court on Lakhimpur Kheri massacre
SC rejects Delhi Police affidavit that claimed no hate speech was made at Delhi Dharam Sansad
Supreme Court directs Uttarakhand Govt to file status report on FIRs in ‘Dharam Sansad’ meet

Hindus as minority: Centre flip-flops on power to notify minority status

Centre now asks the Supreme Court for more time to discuss with state governments the power to notify minority status

Minority Status

Revising its earlier affidavit, the central government on May 10, 2022 said that it had the power to notify minorities, but requires time to consult with state governments and other stakeholders. In the earlier affidavit to the Supreme Court, it had said that states can declare Hindus as a minority if they are numerically less in number.

The government took this decision to avoid “unintended complications in future”. The Ministry of Minority Affairs said that the decision has far-reaching ramifications throughout India and as such requires detailed deliberations.

The court recorded the Centre's submission in its order as “... the question involved in this writ petition has far reaching ramifications throughout the Country and therefore any stand taken without detailed deliberations with stakeholders may result in unintended complications throughout the country.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Express reported Justice S K Kaul, presiding over a two-judge bench comprising Justice M M Sundresh, said that the Centre seemed to be backing out of what was stated earlier. He stressed that the court did not appreciate this.

The document was filed in response to a plea by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who sought minority status for practitioners of Hinduism, Bahaism and Judaism, in states like Mizoram, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur and union territories of Ladakh and Lakshadweep, reported LiveLaw.

According to the Indian Express, Upadhyay had first approached the top court with the demand for minority status for Hindus in 2017, and was sent to the National Commission For Minorities (NCM). The NCM told Upadhyay that only the Centre could grant the relief he was seeking. Accordingly, his current petition questioned the competence of the Parliament to enact the NCM Act 1992 and NCM Educational Institutions Act 2004 and the Centre’s powers to notify minorities.

The Ministry’s previous affidavit filed on March 28 said that Hindus in some states may be notified as a minority for the purposes of Articles 29 and 30 by concerned governments. Since states have the power to notify minorities, the argument that ‘real minorities’ in specified states are denied the protection of minority rights is untenable, the Centre said. As examples, it talked about states notifying religious and linguistic minorities.

The fresh three-page affidavit by Ministry Secretary Renuka Kumar said, “Though the power is vested with the central government to notify minorities, the stand to be formulated by the central government with regard to issues raised in this group of petitions will be finalised after having a wide consultation with the state governments and other stakeholders. This will ensure that the central government is able to place a considered view before this court taking into consideration several sociological and other aspects obviating any unintended complications in future with regard to such a vital issue.”

Earlier, the court fined the Centre with ₹ 7,500 for delay in complying. The Centre then sought to shift the onus on states and asked to dismiss Upadhyay’s plea. The Ministry said, “The reliefs sought by the petitioner are not in larger public or national interest.”

However on March 28, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta again sought time from a bench presided by Justice S K Kaul to submit a new affidavit. The court granted him four weeks, which again the Centre failed to comply with and submitted the document on March 9, a day before the scheduled date of hearing.

On Tuesday, a bench headed by Justice SK Kaul heard the matter. On the previous hearing date, the bench sought clarity as to which Ministry should respond - the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Minority Affairs? The former is arrayed as the first respondent in the case but has no role in the matter because the NCM and NCM for Minority Educational Institutions come under the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Minority Affairs respectively.

Related:

Jahangirpuri violence: Delhi Court refuses bail to eight accused
Cruel, diabolic, barbaric, gruesome and inhuman: Allahabad High Court on Lakhimpur Kheri massacre
SC rejects Delhi Police affidavit that claimed no hate speech was made at Delhi Dharam Sansad
Supreme Court directs Uttarakhand Govt to file status report on FIRs in ‘Dharam Sansad’ meet

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

India

Kashmiri Pandit Protest continues for seventh day

Multiple Protests continue, for more than seven days, over Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat’s murder in the Valley. Supported by Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Sikhs, the protestors have come forward to accuse the BJP led administration of sending people, who are desperate for jobs, in risky areas with no security and a meagre salary.

India

Kashmiri Pandit Protest continues for seventh day

Multiple Protests continue, for more than seven days, over Kashmiri Pandit employee Rahul Bhat’s murder in the Valley. Supported by Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Sikhs, the protestors have come forward to accuse the BJP led administration of sending people, who are desperate for jobs, in risky areas with no security and a meagre salary.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives