12 States Support Identification Of Minorities At State Level, Some BJP Ruled States Oppose The Demand: Read Status Report Filed By Centre
The Ministry of Minority Affairs has filed a status report in the plea seeking guidelines for the identification of minorities at the State level. In the report, the Ministry has furnished the views of six other Ministries and Departments of the Center on the issue.
The Ministry has also furnished the views of 24 State governments and 6 Union Territories on the subject. It has added that comments from six State governments and Union Territories are still awaited.
The States/UTs that have not replied are Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan and Telangana.
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party have taken a stand that the present method of notification of minorities at the Central level is correct and acceptable to them.
Seven States have stated that the minority status of religious communities should be determined by treating the State as a unit. They are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
The Union Territories have taken a stand that since it has no legislature, the Center may notify the religious minorities.
While the State of Goa has not taken a stand on the issue and has simply furnished the population of the Minorities in the State, Karnataka has said that though it has declared six communities as minorities in the state, its stand on the issue is "Status Quo". It is not clear whether the State wants minorities to be determined at the state or national level. The state of Haryana has said that it will send recommendations to the Center and the Center's decision will be final.
Following are the views of the States that have said that religious minorities should be determined at the state level:-
The stand of Andhra Pradesh is that the minority status by reference to religion shall have to be determined by treating State as a unit. It further added that it should be the State and not the whole of India that should be taken as unit for determining religious minorities.
The state of Assam has mentioned that the identification of minorities should be state-wise.
(i) The followers of Judaism and Bahaism residing in Delhi are religious minorities, so the Government of NCT of Delhi have no objection if the Central Government grants them minority status.
(ii) The followers of Hinduism are not the 'religious minority' in the NCT of Delhi but the Central Government may declare the 'migrated minority' status to the "followers of Hinduism who are the religious minority in their origin state (i.e. Jammu and Kashmir, Laddakh etc) and residing in Delhi after migration from home state".
They have informed that in the exercise of the power conferred by clause (d) of section 2 of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Act, 2004, the Government of Maharashtra notified six communities as minority communities, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Paresis), and Jains vide notification dated October 9, 2006. In addition to these six communities, the government of Maharashtra notified the Jews as a minority community vide notification dated July 2, 2016. In the State of Maharashtra, people whose languages are other than Marathi are considered Linguistic Minorities.
In the interest of Uniformity, Central Government can notify the Minority Communities. Central Government can use the census data and in consultation with States, notify the Minority Communities in the concerned State.
The State of Manipur has also stated that religious minority groups should be recognized at the State level. It further added that any religion which constitutes less than 50% of the State’s population should be recognized as a religious minority group of the State.
The matter in issue is listed under List Ill (Concurrent List) of the Constitution and therefore both the Central and State Government has the power to make laws. As such, any legislation to be made in regard to the matter in issue would be a policy decision which is to be exercised on a need basis by the Central government or the State government.
The State of Punjab said that in India different communities are in majority or in minority in different provinces/states depending on their population. It said that therefore it is necessary to protect the interests of their respective minority residing in the state as per constitutional provisions.
It added that only the State government is in a position to better appreciate the interests of different sections/communities residing in the State.
The State of Sikkim has said that the relevant unit to determine the linguistic and religious minority will be the state as has been settled by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai's case.
Tripura informed the Supreme Court that the State government has already notified five religious communities has minorities in the state.
The State of Tamil Nadu stated that the identification of religious and linguistic minority communities should be made at the State level. However, it also said that the actual or probable deprivation of their religious, cultural and educational rights and their socio-economic status, besides the population of these communities in the concerned state, should be considered.
The State of Uttarakhand has said that minorities should be identified at the State level.
The State of West Bengal has said that the power to declare a community as a minority should vest with the State Governments/Union Territories and that the state has already declared six religious communities as minorities.
The batch of cases is being adjourned as the Center has been seeking time to finish consultation with the states.
The Court had observed during a previous hearing that the prayer for identification of minorities at the District level is against the Judgment of an eleven-judge Bench of the Court and is not maintainable.
Earlier, the Bench of Chief Justice U U Lalit had asked whether the Petitioner has a concrete case that Hindus are being denied minority status in states like Mizoram or Kashmir. The Bench said that it will consider the PIL if that is the case.
The Center had earlier filed its reply to Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay's plea stating that the State governments can declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, as a minority within the said state.