The National Commission for Minorities has justified various schemes of the central government for religious minorities.
The National Commission for Minorities has told the Supreme Court that minorities in India should be considered as ‘weaker classes’ because Hindus are in majority here.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Commission has said that while the majority community is dominant in India, the minorities should be treated as a weaker section under Article 46 in India.
The affidavit submitted by NCM in the Supreme Court before a bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, said, “In our country like India where the majority community is predominant, the minorities have to be treated as the weaker sections within the meaning of Article 46.”
Under article 46, it is the responsibility of the state to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections.
The affidavit is the commission’s response to a petition filed jointly by six members of a Hindu Organization, including Neeraj Shankar Saxena, it was said that the running of special schemes by the Center for minorities was wrong.
The petition was filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain. The lawyer contended that the complainants were being unconstitutionally deprived of benefits available to similarly situated members of religious minorities and it’s a violation of their fundamental rights.
It was said in the petition that a budget of Rs 4700 crore has been kept from the government treasury for these schemes, whereas there is no provision for this in the Constitution.
NCM on the other hand maintained their stance that if special provisions and schemes were not framed by the government, “numerically smaller or weaker classes are bound to be suppressed and overpowered by the dominant majority groups.”
The commission says that the constitutional provisions making special plans cannot be limited to caste-based identity, religious minorities must also be included in it so that practical equality of all sections in the society can be ensured.
The NCM argued that only Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists could get benefits as scheduled castes, the commission contended that special provisions for religious minorities are justified if those special provisions were valid despite being religion-specific.
The commission stressed that the elucidation of the Constitution and the Judicial trends would reveal that religious and linguistic minorities “have to be” treated as specific identities entitled to special protection by the state.
The affidavit said that there was nothing in the Constitution that questioned if minorities based on religion or language could be lawfully identified as particular classes of citizens requiring special protection and safeguards or not.
The very creation of NCM was the manifestation of a pre-existing human rights organisation to oversee the enforcement of the human rights of religious minorities, the affidavit reads.
NCM submitted that it was for the government to declare any community as a minority and it was unlikely that the government resorted to “instigation” of any community to claim minority status to benefit from various schemes.
Earlier, the Centre also defended the welfare schemes for religious minorities. The case came up for hearing on July 30, when the Centre sought time to file some additional documents. The court will examine the replies of NCM and the Centre on August 23.