NEW DELHI : The decades-old demand of the Jain community for the “minority” status at the national level may fructify before the Lok Sabha elections as the Law Ministry has ruled in its favour in a legal opinion sought by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Once notified, Jains will be the sixth national minority after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. They will also become entitled to all social and economic benefits, including scholarships and funds listed under the PM’s 15-point programme for minorities.
“We are just waiting for the Attorney General’s opinion on a pending review petition before the Supreme Court by Dakshin Bharat Jain Sabha convener Bal Patil, challenging a 3-judge verdict to notify Jains as a minority at the state level,” the Law Ministry sources said. Law Minister Kapil Sibal, says the verdict does not bar the Centre from giving the minority status to Jain as under the National Commission for Minorities Act, the govt has powers to notify any central minority.
“We have been rooting for approval of this demand for a long time. It is a genuine demand. Jains must be given the national minority status considering they are a separate religion and not part of Hinduism,” Sibal said.
Jains have been already notified as a minority in 13 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, AP, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. They are, now demanding the national state as a minority under the NM Act on the ground that there is a separate religion with their distinct ceremonies for birth, death and marriages.