NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed 19 States to clarify their stand on the issue of identification of minorities arising out of a PIL by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which questions validity of the provisions of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka, which took up the plea on November 22, granted six weeks time to the Union government on a request made by Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj.
The court noted that a status report has been filed by the Union government on October 31, 2022 which stated that the consultative process with the State Governments is in progress and while 14 State Governments have already responded, response from 19 State Governments still is awaited.
"We call upon the 19 State Governments who have not responded to communicate their stand/status to the central government within a period of four weeks from the communication of this order," the bench said in its written order, released on November 24.
The court ordered to post the matter for consideration on January 17.
The bench also took on record a submission by Upadhyay as he sought to rely upon a judgment ofthe Allahabad High Court in Civil titled as 'Committee of Management, Anjuman Madarsa Noorul Islam Dehra Kalan Ghazipur Through its Manager v. State of UP Through Secretary, Minority Welfare and Waqf Department U.P. Lucknow' of April 05, 2007 and requested that the central government may consider the impact of this judgment considering that the issue has not been assailed further.
The HC's judgement had then declared that "Muslims have now ceased to be religious minorities in India and in any case in State of Uttar Pradesh on the basis of their population and strength".
In August 2022, the Centre had sought more time from the court to conduct meetings with state governments and Union Territories in connection with the petitions for identification of religious minorities, including Hindus, at the state level.
The ministry had earlier said "State governments can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a minority community within the said state."