NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, has issued a notice to the Centre after hearing a petition filed by lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking the court`s order to define the term 'minority' and issue necessary guidelines for its definition.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued the notice to the Centre.
Upadhyay challenged the legality of section 2(C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, which gives unchecked power to the Centre to declare any community minority arbitrarily.
In his petition, Upadhyay said that the minority welfare schemes are not being appropriately implemented in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The petition said, "Legitimate share of the minorities is being siphoned off arbitrarily to unqualified sections of the population, because of non-identification and non-notification of minorities at State level."
The petitioner further stated that the denial of minority rights to real minorities and arbitrary and irrational payment of minority benefits to the majority impinges upon the fundamental right to the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
The Supreme Court also asked for the government's reply on the plea seeking transfer of cases from several high courts to it against the Centre's notification to declare five communities-Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsees-as minorities even in those states and Union Territories where they are in majority.
The notices were issued to Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 have been filed at the high courts at Delhi, Meghalaya and Assam.
The plea has requested minority tag for Hindus in six states and two Union territories, where Upadhyay said their numbers have fallen according to the 2011 Census. According to the Census, Hindus are a minority in six states: Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, and in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep.
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