A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. The Petitioner has sought district-wise identification of minorities.

The PIL has been filed by Devkinandan Thakur Ji, a Spiritual Leader and orator of Bhagwat Katha.

The Petition filed through Advocate Ashutosh Dubey states that, "The facts constituting cause of action accrued on 17.05.1992, when the Act came into effect and by using unbridled power under S. 2(c), Centre arbitrarily notified 5 communities viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsee as minority at national level against the spirit of TMA Pai ruling. Cause of action continues till date because followers of Judaism, Bahaism & Hinduism; who are real minorities in Laddakh, Mizoram, Lakshdweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, cannot establish & administer educational institutions of their choice because of non-identification of 'minority' at State level, thus jeopardizing their basic rights guaranteed under Article 29-30."

The Petition states that the rights of the real minorities under Articles 29 and 30 is being siphoned off illegally to the majority community in the States because the Centre has not notified them as a minority under the Act.

The Petitioner states that, "The injury caused to the followers of Judaism, Bahaism & Hinduism is large because S. 2(c) is manifestly arbitrary irrational & contrary to Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 & 30. Hindus are merely 1% in Laddakh, 2.75% in Mizoram, 2.77% in Lakshdweep, 4% in Kashmir, 8.74% in Nagaland, 11.52% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49% in Punjab, 41.29% in Manipur but Centre has not declared them 'minority', thus Hindus are not protected Articles 29-30 and cannot establish & administer educational institution of their choice."

The Petition raises the following questions of law:

1. "Whether Centre has disregarded the ruling in TMA Pai Case?

2. Whether Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 confers unbridled power to the Centre?

3. Whether there is a need to define the 'Minority' under Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minority Act 1992?

4. Whether declaring Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsi and Jain as minority at national level, is arbitrary irrational and contrary to Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution?

5. Whether Centre has failed to apply TMA Pai & Bal Patil ruling evenly by excluding the followers of Bahaism, Judaism and Hinduism from purview of 'minority' status under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act?"

The Petitioner has prayed that Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 and Notification on Minority Community issued by the Ministry of Welfare on October 23, 1993, is declared void, unconstitutional and inoperative for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.

It also seeks direction to the Respondents to define 'minority' and lay down ' guidelines for identification of minorities at district level', in order to ensure that only those religious and linguistic groups, which are socially economically politically non-dominant and numerically very inferior, get the benefits and protections guaranteed under Articles 29-30.

A PIL seeking similar relief is already pending before the Supreme Court.

The PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a determination of minorities at the state level is already pending before the Supreme Court. Upadhyay had challenged the validity of section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act, 2004 alleging that it gives unbridled power to the Centre and termed it "manifestly arbitrary, irrational, and offending".

The Center has filed its reply to Ashwini Upadhyay's plea stating that the State governments can declare any religious or linguistic community, including Hindus, as a minority within the said state.

Last month, the Bench of Justice S K Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh had expressed displeasure at the Center's stand that it requires time to consult the states over the issue of identification of minorities, including Hindus, at the state level.

"If the Centre wants to consult states, we will have to take a call. Solution can't be that everything is so complex, we will do so. This cannot be answer from the Government of India. You decide what you want to do. If you want to consult them do it. Who is stopping you from doing so?", the Bench had said.

Prior to that, the Supreme Court had imposed a cost of Rs 7,500 on the Center, while granting it one further opportunity to file its reply to the Petition.

Click here to read/download the Petition