State-Wise Grant of Minority Status | Day 6: Supreme Court gives a last chance to states to file reports and repliesState-Wise Grant of Minority Status
The petition challenges a provision of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 (NCMEI Act) which empowers only the Union Government to identify and notify minority communities in India.
Upadhyay’s petition prays the Court to direct the Union to lay down guidelines for the identification of minorities at the state level to ensure only those “religious & linguistic groups, which are socially economically politically non-dominant and numerically inferior” can establish educational institutions of their choice.
Another last chance
As soon as the matter was called out, Justice Khanna sought to know which states are yet to file their affidavits or furnish data on minorities. “Whoever has not filed a reply, let the costs be paid,” he said.
The Bench granted state governments one last chance to either furnish the data directly to the Union Government or file affidavits before the Court. Six weeks’ time was granted to the state governments. The Union was directed to file a status report two weeks before the next date of hearing.
In case of non-filing, the Court clarified, state governments will pay a cost of ₹10,000 to the Supreme Court Advocate Bar Association Advocates’ Welfare Fund.
On 11 January 2023, the Union in its status report had stated that replies from six state governments and Union Territories were awaited: Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan and Telangana. The Court recorded this in its 17 January Order.
Later, in April 2023, a different Bench consisting of Justices S.K. Kaul and Ahsanuddin Amanullah had expressed similar dissatisfaction with the delays in filing replies. The Bench had stated that if state governments fail to reply “we will presume that they have nothing to say.”
The Bench will hear the matter next on a non-miscellaneous day in April 2024.