Supreme Court issues notice to GoI on PIL to identify minorities at State Level

On August 28, 2020, the Union Government sought a response from the Central Government on Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to frame guidelines in identifying minorities at state level.

What does the PIL say?

The National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act, 2004 does not identify minorities at state level. It identifies the minorities only at state level. This deprives the minorities in the states their constitutional rights. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demands the centre to lay down guidelines to identify minorities at state level as well.

Minorities at national level

Under the NCMEI act, the religious communities such as Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are considered as minorities at national level. This is against the judgement of TMA Pai Foundation case, 2002. At the case, the Supreme Court held that the unit of determining linguistic and religious minorities would be State.

There is a significant population of the minorities at state level. For instance, muslims are in majority in Lakshadweep. They constitute to 96.58%. Similarly, muslims constitute to 96% of majority in Kashmir. Likewise, Christians are in majority in Mizoram (87.16%), Nagaland (88.10%) and Meghalaya (74.59%).

Constitutional Provisions to Minorities

Article 29 provides that a section of citizens residing in India having distinct culture, language or script shall have the right to conserve it. It gives protection to religious and linguistic minorities.

Article 30 says that the minorities shall have the right to establish educational institutions of their own choice.

Minorities Day in India

It is observed on December 18 every year. It marks the Declaration on rights of persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities by the United Nations, 1992. The declaration declares that the states shall protect the existence of Ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity of minorities.

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