State-Wise Grant of Minority Status #2: SG Requests 4-Week Extension to File Union AffidavitState-Wise Grant of Minority Status
On March 28th 2022, the Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh once again expressed displeasure at the Union’s repeated delays in responding to a petition seeking the State-wise grant of minority status.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested the Court to grant the Union four weeks’ time to place its stand on record. Mr. Mehta claimed that he had not vetted Mr. Upadhyay’s affidavit though he had read it. Kaul J remarked that it appeared as though everyone except the SG had read the affidavit.
The petition, filed by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, argues that the Union’s current process of only recognising religious and linguistic minorities at the national level is discriminatory. This is because Hindus are a minority in six states and two Union Territories—however, as they are in ‘majority’ nationally, they cannot avail of constitutional benefits for minorities in these states. Mr. Upadhyay has filed seven other petitions so far on religious rights at the Supreme Court.
The Union Government was to file a counter-affidavit stating its position on the matter in December 2020. However, it has been dragging its heels. On January 31st of this year, the Bench admonished the Union for failing to file its counter-affidavit, granting the Union an extension of two weeks.
On March 28th, the Bench granted the Union four weeks to file its counter, emphasising that this time it meant exactly 28 days. Mr. Upadhyay will be given two weeks to file his reply to the counter. Further directions will be issued by the Court on May 10th 2022.To read more of SCO’s incisive journalism on the minority status case, click here.