SC pulls up Centre for changing stand: ‘Creates uncertainty’

SUPREME COURT on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the Centre converting its stand on a plea that sought minority standing for Hindus in states and Union territories the place their numbers have long gone under different communities, announcing the federal government’s newest affidavit within the subject “seems to back out of what was stated earlier” and it does now not respect this.

“They have turned turtle,” stated Justice S Okay Kaul, presiding over a two-judge bench, relating to the 2 affidavits filed by means of the Ministry of Minority Affairs on March 25 and May 9 according to a petition filed by means of Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which has additionally challenged the federal government’s energy to inform minorities underneath National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

In the March 25 affidavit, the Centre had sought to shift the onus of granting minority standing on states, announcing they too have concurrent powers to take action. However, in a contemporary affidavit filed on Monday “in supersession of the earlier affidavit”, it stated “the power is vested with the Centre to notify minorities”.

In the contemporary affidavit, the federal government additionally stated that the subject has “far-reaching ramifications”, and that it wanted extra time for discussions with state governments and different stakeholders.

Referring to the 2 affidavits, the bench, additionally comprising Justice M M Sundresh, stated, “Another counter affidavit has been filed now… which seems to back out of what was stated earlier, something we do not appreciate.”

Expressing the courtroom’s sadness, Justice Kaul stated, “…What I am not able to understand is (that) Union of India is not able to decide what it wants to do. All this thought should have been given before… This creates an uncertainty. And you know all this by its very nature comes into public domain before we put our eyes to it… So this creates its own dynamics.”

“How can in a matter like this an affidavit first be filed that the state and Centre both have powers? Now when he (petitioner) says state does not have power, you file an affidavit saying… I mean number of days were given to decide the stand.”

On the prayer to grant extra time for discussions with states, the courtroom stated, “If you want to consult states, you will have to take a call whatever… Solution can’t be, everything is complex, we will do so. This cannot be the answer from the Government of India. You decide what you want to do. If you want to consult, consult. Who is stopping you from consulting.”

The bench allowed the Centre’s request for time to hold out the discussions and stuck subsequent listening to on August 30. The courtroom additionally directed the Centre to report a standing file “at least three days” prior to the following date of listening to.

“You will have to take whatever consultation etc…You will have to do some exercise,” stated Justice Kaul.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, showing for the Centre, responded that there used to be a gathering through which 3 Union ministers participated in conjunction with their respective secretaries. He additionally attended. “There was a detailed discussion. And what can be the potential or possible fallout one way or the other were discussed,” he stated.

Justice Kaul stated, “Because of the diversity in our country, the principle which is sought to be propounded is what steps are being taken, to see that where a minorities commission protects the rights of the minorities, similarly in states where others may be minority, their rights are protected.”

But Upadhyay identified that his petition challenged the very validity of the National Minority Commission Act.

The petition depends on the 2011 Census of India, in keeping with which Hindus are a minority in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, J&Okay, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab.

Upadhyay contended that accordingly, Hindus will have to be given minority standing in those states and UTs as according to the 2002 T M A Pai ruling.

Upadhyay first moved the Supreme Court in 2017 praying for suitable tips for the id of minorities and for quashing the central notification issued underneath Section 2(c) of the National Minorities Commission (NCM) Act mentioning Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as “minority” neighborhood. He identified that Jains had been additionally added within the checklist in 2014, however now not Hindus in spite of them being a minority in some states and UTs.

The courtroom then requested him to manner the NCM which stated that it “does not have the jurisdiction to deal with the prayer…” and that underneath Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, simplest the Centre can claim a neighborhood as a ‘minority’.

Upadhyay once more moved the Supreme Court the place a bench headed by means of then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi sought the help of Attorney General Okay Okay Venugopal.

But by the point it used to be indexed subsequent for listening to, CJI Gogoi had demitted place of work and the brand new bench headed by means of his successor CJI S A Bobde pushed aside the plea with out assigning any causes.

Following this, he once more filed a petition in August 2020, additionally difficult the Constitutional validity of Section 2(c) of the NCM Act. The Supreme Court issued understand to the Centre within the subject on August 28, 2020.

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