Minority status of hindus: Ministry of Minority affairs tells Supreme Court that issue is "sensitive", 19 states/UTs yet to revert

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The top court is currently seized of two petitions concerning minority status for Hindus in states where their numbers have gone below other communities.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has informed the Supreme Court that it has held consultative meetings with State Governments and Union Territories (UTs) along with other stakeholders on the concerning minority status for Hindus in states where their numbers have gone below other communities, currently pending consideration before Supreme Court.

The top court is currently seized of a plea by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking state-level and district-level identification of minorities in India. Another plea in the top court, filed by Religious Leader Devkinandan Thakur, has challenged the National Commission for Minorities Act. It alleges that when the Act came into force, the Central Government arbitrarily notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsee as minorities. The Supreme Court has tagged both petitions and is hearing them together.

The Ministry's affidavit, filed on behalf of the Under Secretary, Md. Nadeem states that some of the states and UTs have sought additional time to have wider consultations so as to form their opinions on the issue at hand and the Central ministry has requested them to act expeditiously.

State Governments of Punjab, Mizoram Meghalaya, Manipur, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, West Bengal, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and UTs of Ladakh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu and Chandigarh have already put their views and comments on record, according to the Central ministry's affidavit before Supreme Court, whereas remaining 19 states have not.

Adding that the issue at hand is "sensitive" and has "far-reaching" consequences, the Central ministry has urged the Supreme Court to grant it more time so that the governments and stakeholders are able to finalise their stand.

On August 30, the Centre had sought time to revert on the issue. Earlier, Central Government had submitted before the Top Court that the State Governments also have the power to declare a religious or linguistic community as a ‘minority community’ within the concerned State.  In its affidavit, the Centre cited the example of the Government of Maharashtra which had notified the "Jews" as a minority community within the State of Maharashtra in July 2016.

Case title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs. Union of India