The Supreme Court on Monday directed the National Commission for Minorities to examine the question in three months in response to a petition that pointed to Hindus being minorities in several states where other religious denominations were in greater numbers.
An apex court bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said that it was for the NCM to first take a call on the issue and asked the commission to take a view on a representation filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
“Instead of entertaining the present writ petition, we are of the view that at this stage the NCM should be asked to consider the representation dated Nov 17, 2017, filed by the petitioner and pass appropriate orders thereon. The court would expect the commission to take a decision in the matter as early as possible, preferably within three months,” it said.
According to 2011 Census, Hindus are minority in eight states: Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), Jammu & Kashmir (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%). But their minority rights are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily to the majority population belonging to other communities as neither central nor state governments have notified Hindus as a minority under National Commission for Minority Act,” the petition said.
SC had earlier refused to entertain Upadhyay’s petition seeking minority status for Hindus in eight states and asked him to approach and raise the issue before NCM. The petitioner filed a representation before the commission but approached SC after getting no response from the commission.
The petitioner contended that Hindus were outnumbered by people from other religions in seven states and one UT. It pleaded that Hindus be granted the minority status to pave the way for them to avail of welfare schemes meant for minorities.
Upadhyay submitted that minority status should be decided at the state level and not at the national level. As per a 1993 notification by the Centre, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis were granted the minority status in India and Jains were added in the list in 2014.