The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minority wake-up call

New Delhi, Aug. 10: The Supreme Court today said listing religious groups as minority communities should be discouraged and the existing list eventually done away with.

Classifying communities on the basis of religion promotes divisive tendencies and weakens the nation, a three-judge bench said.

Although not binding, a suggestion of the Supreme Court has to be taken seriously by the authorities concerned ' whether it is a ministry or Parliament or any department or other body coming under the definition of “state” under Article 12 of the Constitution.

The bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justices D.M. Dharmadhikari and P.K. Balasubramanyan said in a 22-page judgment the “goal of the Constitution is to create social conditions where there is no need to shield or protect rights of minority or majority communities”.

The bench made the observation while rejecting the appeal of the Jain community for minority status under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act.

The minorities commission, “instead of encouraging claims from different communities for being added to a list of notified minorities under the Act, should suggest ways and means to help create social conditions where the list of notified minorities is gradually reduced and done away with altogether”, the court said.

Commissions set up for minorities have to direct their activities to maintaining the integrity of India by eliminating over time the minority and majority classes, it added.

“If, only on the basis of a different religious thought or less numerical strength or lack of health, wealth, education, power or social rights, a claim of a section of the Indian society to the status of minority is considered and conceded, there would be no end to such claims in a society as multi-religious and multi-linguistic as India is”.

At present, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians are listed as minority communities.

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