Day 1 Oral Hearing: State-wise Grant of Minority Status

State-Wise Grant of Minority Status

On January 31st 2022, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure at the Union government’s repeated delays in responding to a petition arguing that State governments should be empowered to grant minority rights to religious minorities in their states. 

BJP spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, in this petition, argues that the current method of recognising religious minorities only at a national level discriminates against Hindus who are in the minority in six states and two Union Territories. This is one of eight pending petitions Mr. Upadhyay has filed on religious rights at the Supreme Court. 

The Union government was originally supposed to file a counter affidavit stating its position on the state-wise grant of religious minority status in December 2020. It has been reluctant to do so ever since. After many delays, earlier this month Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh gave the Union a last opportunity to file its counter by January 21st, 2022. 

Today Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj sought two more weeks to file the Union government’s response, stating that the Third Wave was making it difficult to prepare the document. Kaul J found this argument unacceptable, reminding Mr.Nataraj that the response was long pending. The Bench stated that the Union must ‘take a stand’ on the matter. 

The Union government was eventually granted two weeks to file a counter. The Bench ordered the Union to pay Rs. 7,500 to the Supreme Court Advocate Bar Association Advocates’ Welfare Fund as costs for the delays. 

The case will now be heard in February 2022.