In its fourth affidavit filed on the issue on Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Supreme Court that it required more time to complete its internal consultations on issue of granting minority status to Hindus -- who, in overall terms, make up nearly 80% of the country's population -- in states where their numbers have gone below those of other religions.
In response to petitions filed by BJP supporter and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which cited the precedent formed by the apex court's 2002 decision in the TMA Pai case, wherein the court had ruled that for the purposes of Article 30 of the Constitution of India -- which states the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions -- religious and linguistic minorities will have to be identified at the state-level, the Centre informed the court that 19 states and union territories are still in the process of consulting various stakeholders while 14 states and four UTs have submitted their opinions.
The Centre's affidavit stated that, “Since the matter is sensitive in nature and will have far-reaching ramifications, this court may kindly consider allowing more time to enable state governments/UTs and stakeholders, with whom the consultative meetings have already been held, to finalize their considered views in the matter."
The matter was listed for hearing on Tuesday before a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka. However, the hearing proved unworkable, as both judges were sitting on a constitution bench.
Another plea in the top court, filed by Religious Leader Devkinandan Thakur, has challenged the National Commission for Minorities Act. It alleges that when the Act came into force, the Central Government arbitrarily notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsee as minorities. The Supreme Court has decide to club together both petitions and is hearing them together.