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news details
Modi Govt also not for minority status to Hindus of J&K?
Last opportunity to Centre
2/7/2017 11:05:15 PM
Early Times Report

JAMMU, Feb 7: Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma approached the Supreme Court of India almost 6 months ago and sought its intervention so that the minority Hindus in Jammu & Kashmir got benefits which minority communities in the rest of the country, including Sikhs and Jains, enjoy.
The PIL which he filed said that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims who were in a majority in Jammu and Kashmir. The PIL also said that rights of religious and linguistic "minorities" in the State were being "siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily" due to extension of benefits to "unqualified sections" of the population.
The PIL, in addition, urged the Supreme Court to direct the authorities in the state and at the Centre to set up of "State Minority Commission for identification of minorities".
As per the PIL, "The population of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir according to the 2011 Census is 68.31 per cent" and added that the Communities which were eligible to be notified as minorities, were not awarded their due share of scholarship owing to their non-identification as minorities, thereby jeopardising their Constitutionally guaranteed rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India.
"This clearly reflects the unfairness and discrimination of the State towards the communities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which are eligible to be notified as minorities," the PIL said. The PIL also sought directions to consider extension of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 to Jammu and Kashmir and make amendments so that benefits available to minorities of other States could also be given to the minorities of J&K.
"Appoint a committee of experts functioning under the direct supervision of this court to submit a comprehensive report identifying communities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir which qualify as religious and linguistic minorities," the PIL said, and urged the apex court added to "Constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a High Court Judge (retired) working under direct supervision of this Court for investigating the illegal and arbitrary disbursement of minority benefits under the Prime Minister's 15 point Programme to the communities".
The J&K Government has opposed the PIL and submitted an affidavit to this effect, much to the chagrin of the minority Hindus. They had hoped that the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre would adopt a positive attitude towards them and contest the state government's contention so that the minority Hindus got the benefits the minorities in other parts of India enjoyed. However, the Centre has not filed any affidavit. The Supreme Court, which had earlier issued notices to Ministry of Minority Affairs of Jammu & Kashmir government, National Minority Commission and others, however, had refused to restrain authorities from disbursing benefits to any community in the State.
The case again came up consideration on Monday, but the Centre again failed to give its opinion on the important case. As a result, the Supreme Court imposed a cost of Rs 30,000 on the Centre for not filing its reply to a PIL.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana allowed the counsel for the Centre to file the response after depositing the cost within two weeks and noted that a fine of Rs 15,000 was also imposed last time for the same reason. The bench said that "as the matter is very important and it was according last opportunity to the Centre to file the reply".
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, did say that the counter affidavit was ready with the counsel, but told the Bench that "it has to be vetted and cleared by the authorities at the "highest level".
Not convinced by the argument of the Additional Solicitor General, the Supreme Court Bench took strong note of the fact that the Centre, which was earlier asked to deposit to Rs 15,000 cost for non-filing of the reply, submitted the fine but did not file the response. "We are raising it (cost) to Rs 30,000 and granting the last opportunity as the matter is very serious. Let the counter affidavit be filed within two weeks," the bench said and ordered that the PIL be listed for hearing after four weeks.
Why did the Centre deposit Rs 15,000 and not filed a reply? This is the fundamental issue. Has it decided to support the J&K Government's stand that harms the interests of the minority Hindus in the state? The fact that the Additional Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that a counter affidavit was ready did suggest that the Centre would oppose the PIL.
The plea of the Law Officer representing the Centre in the Supreme Court has not gone down well with the concerned community. The reasons are obvious and one of the reasons is that they had entertained the hope that the Modi Government would overrule the state government and take a stand that would help the minority Hindus obtain justice and benefits which are available to minorities in other states of the Union.
One thing is clear: The BJP would further lose its face in case the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre toed the state government's line.
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