The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minority panel hails SC advice
- Home declines comment, may get in touch with law ministry

New Delhi, Aug. 10: The National Commission for Minorities has welcomed the Supreme Court’s advice to “suggest ways and means to help create social conditions where the list of notified minorities is gradually reduced and done away with altogether”.

“We appreciate the Supreme Court’s suggestion. One of the final goals of Indian polity is to raise the socio-economic standards of minority communities to such a level that they do not remain mere minorities. The ultimate aim of the NCM is also to create such an environment and help build such a society. We would soon be sending our observation to this effect to the government, suggesting ways to create better socio-economic conditions,” chairman Tarlochan Singh said.

The home ministry ' the nodal ministry ' refused to comment on the judgment. However, sources said the unanimous suggestion of the three-judge bench has an important bearing and the ministry will get in touch with the law ministry, the minorities commission as well as various minority groups.

Rejecting an appeal for national minority status for the Jain community, the court advised the commission to work towards a situation where there will be no need for labelling communities minority. At present, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are notified as minority communities under section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act.

Rev. Enos Das Pradhan, secretary-general of Churches of North India, said it was not tenable to do away with minority status altogether.

“The minority communities have so far remained marginalised. The status of some communities has even deteriorated further over the years. Unless minority communities are given a larger share of the cake, they will not become as strong as the majority community both in the social and economic sense. Unless that happens, how can you do away with notified minorities'”

Maulana Mahmood Madni of Jamiat-ul-ulma said he would comment only after seeing the full judgment and consulting legal experts.

“The country has already been reorganised in the year 1956 under the state reorganisation act on the basis of language. Differential treatment to linguistic minorities based on language within the state is understandable but if the same concept for minorities on the basis of religion is encouraged, the whole country, which is already under class and social conflicts due to various divisive forces, will further face division on the basis of religious diversities,” the court said. “Encouragement to such fissiparous tendencies would be a serious jolt to the secular structure of constitutional democracy.”

The court added: “Our concept of secularism, to put it in a nutshell, is that the ‘state’ will have no religion. The states will treat all religions and religious groups equally and with equal respect without in any manner interfering with their individual rights of religion, faith and worship.”

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