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Supreme Court bins minority plea for Hindus

'In the case of language we take it state-wise. But as far as religious identities are concerned, it has a pan-India application…'

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 18.12.19, 2:24 AM
  • Updated 18.12.19, 2:24 AM
  • a min read
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Justice Bobde, who was sitting on a bench with Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant, brushed aside the contention. “Show us any judgment which says that religious communities would be identified state-wise?” he said. iStock photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest plea that wanted Hindus to be declared minorities in eight states, the bench making it clear that state boundaries were based on language and not religious identities.

“In the case of language we take it state-wise. But as far as religious identities are concerned, it has a pan-India application…,” Chief Justice S.A. Bobde observed.

Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who had filed the PIL and argued in person, claimed the court had earlier passed judgments related to the rights of minorities.

Justice Bobde, who was sitting on a bench with Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant, brushed aside the contention. “Show us any judgment which says that religious communities would be identified state-wise?” he said.

When the advocate could not cite any, Justice Bobde said: “States are formed on linguistic basis, religion is pan-India. Religion is beyond the boundaries of the states.”

The court then dismissed the petition.

Attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, who was present at the hearing following a directive from the court to assist it in the matter, said Hindus were in a minority in eight states. But he did not take any stand on the contention that Hindus being minorities in these states should be entitled to benefits the minorities enjoy.

Upadhyay had alleged that the government was acting in an arbitrary manner by designating only Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as minorities but not Hindus who were numerically a minority in Lakshadweep (2.5 per cent of the population), Mizoram (2.75 per cent), Nagaland (8.75 per cent), Meghalaya (11 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (28 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (29 per cent), Manipur (31 per cent) and Punjab (38.4 per cent).