The Supreme Court on February 11, 2019 directed the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take a decision within three months on a representation seeking guidelines to redefine the term 'Minority'.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay to re-file his representation to the Minority Commission and directed the Commission to take a decision in this regard within three months in the context of state-wise population of a community.
Pleas presented by Petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay
• Direct and declare that Section 2(c) of the NCM Act 1992 is void and inoperative for being arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India
• Direct and declare that the Notification on Minority Community dated 23.10.1993 is void and inoperative for being arbitrary unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India
• Direct the Government to define "Minorities" and lay down guidelines for their identification to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups, which are socially, economically and politically inferior, may enjoy rights and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30 of the Indian Constitution
BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay had filed a writ petition in the court to declare the Notification dated 23.10.1993 as arbitrary unreasonable and ultra-vires the Constitution.
The apex court had declined his petition in 2017 and had asked him to approach the National Commission for Minorities, following which, he submitted a Representation to the National Commission for Minorities on November 17, 2017
However, as per Upadhyay, the NCM has done nothing since November 2017.
Hence, he filed a fresh writ petition to declare Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, and the Notification dated 23.10.1993 as void and unconstitutional for being arbitrary, unreasonable and offending Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
He contended that those who are not entitled to minority protection are enjoying the benefits of the same under the 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.
The enjoyment of minority benefits by majority breaches various fundamental rights such as right to equality, right to freedom of speech and discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or birth.
He further illustrated that Hindus, who are otherwise a majority community, are minority in several north-eastern states such as in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Hindus are deprived of benefits available to the minority communities in these states.