NEW DELHI – The Centre on Monday has sought more time from the Supreme Court to conduct meetings with state governments and Union Territories in connection with identification of religious minorities, including Hindus, at the state level.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs, in a status report, said views of the state governments including Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and UT of J&K have not been received as on date. “A reminder was sent to these states requesting them to furnish their comments/views. Further, comments of states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are also awaited. In these states, the issue may have wider ramifications. The Ministry proposes to hold meetings in the ensuing weeks with the remaining state governments/Union Territories in order to have their views on the matter also,” said the ministry’s response, on a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
It added that in view of this position, the apex court may consider to defer the hearing and allow more time for holding meetings with other states and UTs, and also to enable the states/UTs and stakeholders with whom the consultative meetings have already been held, to finalise their considered views in the matter.
The apex court will hear the matter on Tuesday.
In May, the top court said that the Centre is uncertain and has not taken a clear stand on a plea seeking a direction to it to lay down guidelines for identification of minorities at the state level, including Hindus.
It had said that if Centre wants to hold consultation with state governments in connection with granting minority status to Hindus, where they are outnumbered by other communities, then it should do so.
In a previous affidavit, the ministry had said: “state governments can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a minority community within the said state. For instance, the government of Maharashtra has notified Jews as a minority community within the state of Maharashtra.”
The ministry said that certain states, where Hindus or other communities are less in number, can declare them a minority community within its territory, to enable them set up and administer their own institutions. -IANS