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Supreme Court directs National Commission for Minorities to define ‘minorities’, form guidelines for ‘minority’ status

Upadhyaya's 2017 plea seeking minority status for Hindus in seven states and 1 UT was declined by the SC and he was told to approach the National Commission for Minorities.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of India directed the National Commission for Minorities to decide on a representation to define ‘minorities’ and lay down guidelines for identifying minorities at state-level in three months time, reported Live Law.

According to reports, the petition was filed in the Supreme Court by BJP leader and advocate Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay seeking minority status for Hindus in seven states and one Union Territory where the number of the community has fallen down as per the Census 2011 data.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi hearing the petition has now asked Upadhyay to re-file his representation to the minority panel and directed the commission to take a decision within three months from Monday.

The petitioner has claimed the failure of the commission to reply to his representation and stated that the term minority needed to be redefined and reconsidered in the context of the population of a community in a state, instead of nationwide population data.

Upadhyaya has contended that those who are not entitled to minority protections under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, exemptions under Articles 15(5) and (6) of the Constitution, provisions of the Right to Education Act and welfare programmes of the Government, etc, are enjoying these measures. This is a clear violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Upadhyaya had said that Hindus, who are a majority community as per national data, are in minority in several north-eastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir. He further added that the Hindu community is deprived of benefits which are available to the minority communities in these states.

The SC had, in November 2017, declined to entertain Upadhyaya’s plea seeking the minority status for Hindus in seven states and one UT and had asked him to approach the NCM.

The NCM, however, allegedly took no action on it for 15 months. Hence Upadhyaya had proceeded to file a writ petition to declare Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, and the Notification dated 23.10.1993, void and unconstitutional for being arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

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