Guwahati: Two PILs filed in the High Courts of Gauhati and Meghalaya have urged for the declaration of Hindus in Northeast Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya as minorities in terms of the Supreme Court's ruling in TMA Pai and Ors. v. State of Karnataka.
While one of these pleas has been filed by Delina Khongdup, the second by one Pankaj Deka through his lawyer Advocate H Talukdar. While Delina Khongdup's plea has been filed in the Meghalaya High Court, Pankaj Deka has moved the Gauhati High Court for relief, Bar and Bench reported.
The petitioners in both these cases challenge the Notification dated October 23, 1993, that declared Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jains as minorities.
It is highlighted in the PILs that the States of the North East are populated mostly by Christian people.
As per the pleas. minorities should be calculated as per their populations in their States and not based on national numbers, adding that the calculation based on national figures leads to the minorities in a State being deprived of benefits.
The pleas further stated that the taxpayer's money shall be wasted since the majority communities in these States are enjoying the benefits earmarked for the communities deemed "minorities."
The pleas have further stated that granting benefits to the minorities in these regions, an interpretation of the Constitution was necessary.
Although Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution use the term 'minority' in their headings, they do not define the term.
The please pointed out that the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities defines a minority as persons numerically inferior to the rest of the population in a State, in a non-dominant position, differing in certain respects from the rest of the State.
Pointing to the TMA Pai ruling which declared linguistic minorities to be determined on State lines, the petitions claim that religious minorities need to be calculated on such territorial lines as well.
The pleas exphasized that the Christians and Muslims constitute a sizeable chunk of the population in certain areas of the country, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Kerala, and actual minorities like the Hindus and indigenous groups are being denied their "rightful claims.
"...the legitimate share of Hindus and other indigenous religions of Nagaland and Mizoram are being siphoned off arbitrarily to unqualified sections of the population, because of non-identification and non- notification of minorities at the State-level," it is stated.
The petitions describe the Centre's act of non-identification of minorities in accordance with their numbers in States as an abdication of statutory powers.
The petitioners have challenged the prevailing 1993 notification on specified minorities as discriminatory, infringing upon the rights to equal opportunity in public employment, freedom of conscience, and right to profess, propagate, and practice religion.
The pleas further claim that the State has failed in its obligation to eliminate differences in status, facilities, and opportunities.