The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar will next take up the matter on May 4.
Filed by Ashwini Upadhyay, the plea seeks minority status for Hindus in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, J&K, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.
Upadhyay said Hindus are being treated as majority in these states despite being minority in population and are, therefore, illegitimately being deprived of benefits meant for minority communities.
He said, “The Union Government offered 20,000 scholarships in field of technical education for minority students. In J&K, Muslims are 68.30% and government allotted 717 out of 753 scholarships to Muslim students, but none to Hindu students citing Notification on Minority Communities dated 23.10.1993 which declares Muslim’s as minority, but not the Hindus.”
The National Commission for Minority Act 1992 came into force on May 17, 1993. It extends to the whole of India except J&K. The Central Government through a notification dated October 23, 1993, notified five communities viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as ‘minority’ community.
According to 2011 Census, Hindus are monitory in eight states i.e. Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (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 because neither Central nor the State Governments have notified Hindus as a ‘minority’ under Section 2 (c) of the NCM Act. Therefore, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights, guaranteed under the Articles 25 to 30,” it said.
Contending that the 1993 notification is against the basic structure of the Constitution, Upadhyay highlights how communities, which are in majority in a given state, are enjoying benefits meant for minority communities.
The PIL also contended: “The Prime Minister’s 15 Points Programme/scheme meant for religious and linguistic minorities is not being appropriately used, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.”
THe petitioner had moved a similar plea before the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court dismissed the petition giving liberty to the petitioner to approach the appropriate High Court.