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SC asks Centre to respond to petition seeking state-by-state minority determination

On Friday, the Supreme Court gave the Centre a month to respond to a petition that seeking state-by-state minority determinations based on their population in each state, and transferred three similar petitions to it.

The court issued notice to the Centre on the petition filed by Delhi BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in August 2020, but the Centre has yet to respond. Tushar Mehta, the Centre’s Solicitor General, appeared on Friday and requested a week to file a response.

“Can you do it in a week because you haven’t been able to do it so far?” a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh remarked. It did, however, extend the deadline, saying, “As a last resort, four weeks’ time to file response is granted.”

In his petition, Upadhyay questioned the constitutionality of Section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) Act 2004, which gave the Centre unrestricted powers to deny minority benefits to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsees.

The petition asked the Centre to issue guidelines at the state level for identifying minority communities “to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups that are socially, economically, politically, and numerically inferior can establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”

Three union ministries – Home, Law and Justice, and Minority Affairs – have joined the petition as signatories. After seven weeks, the court agreed to hear the case again.

In addition, the court heard Upadhyay’s transfer petition, in which he requested that all pending petitions on this issue be transferred from the high courts of Delhi, Gauhati, and Meghalaya. The petitioners in the three pending petitions have not objected to the transfer, according to senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who appeared for Upadhyay. Upadhyay filed a petition in the Delhi high court, which is still pending.

“Notices have been served because the same issues are pending in the high courts.” There is no one to oppose you. “As a result, transfer petitions are permitted.”

Hindus make up only 1% of the population in Ladakh, 2.75 percent in Mizoram, 2.77 percent in Lakshadweep, 4% in Jammu and 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, according to Upadhyay’s petition.

He claimed that the benefits available to minorities to establish and run institutions are being abused by the majority.

“The Centre’s pan-India classification of religious minorities has not only created a wave of inequality across different states, but it has also encouraged those who do not belong to that minority religion to convert for social, political, and economic benefits,” according to the petition.

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