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Upendra Bharti | HENB | Delhi | January 20, 2020:: The Supreme Court today issued notice to Union Govt in a petition challenging the constitutionality of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, and the extension of Government welfare schemes to religious minorities mainly Muslims using huge money taken from the majority Hindu taxpayers.
The six Hindu petitioners, viz. Neeraj Shankar Saxena, Manish Sharma, Umesh Rawat, Arun Kumar Singh, Shishupal Bhagel and Sourabh Singh have approached the Court highlighting that they are being unconstitutionally deprived of benefits available to similarly situated members of religious minorities through Government welfare schemes, in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 27 of the Constitution of India. The petition states, inter alia,
“Petitioners are filing this petition against the injustice being done by the Central Government discriminating them with the members of other religious communities distinguished on the basis of religion. The Petitioners and other members of Hindu community are suffering because they have been born in majority community.”
Further, it is argued that recognising religious minorities and extending special benefits to them, while excluding similarly placed Hindus, would also adversely affect the integrity of India. In this regard, the petition states,
“The Government and Parliament of India cannot promote minoritism and cannot show inclination towards them and allure them to flourish by initiating beneficial programs for them. Such an action will be detrimental for the Sovereignty and Integrity of India and give rise to separatists and may create a situation for another division of the nation.”
A specific challenge has also been made to the constitutionality of the National Minorities Commission as well, which the petitioners argue entails a fraud on the Constitution.
“… the purpose of establishing minority commission is unconstitutional and also the initiation of beneficial schemes for religious minorities is fraud on the constitution and misuse of power being committed by the Central Government to appease a section of the society at the cost of National integration. This type of scheme will destroy the constitutional fabric and will create dissatisfaction amongst majority community for being suppressed and discriminated for taken birth in Hindu community.”
The petitioners have contended that members of the Hindu community are being discriminated on the ground of religion when the Government restricts the extension of welfare/beneficial schemes and scholarships only to religious minorities.
Inter alia, objection has been registered to the allocation of Rs 4,800 crores (including Rs 100 Crores for as Equity contribution to National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation) of the Government’s 2019-2020 budget for the implementation of such welfare schemes. The petition states,
“… members of Hindu community are being discriminated merely on the ground of religion as a number of beneficiary schemes carrying budget of Rs.4700 crores have been initiated in favour of some religious minorities even though Constitution of India does not conceive the idea for making special provision in the name of any religion or for making separate law and schemes for the benefit of majority or minority community.”
In this regard, specific submissions have also been made against the provision of welfare schemes for waqf properties, which also find a place in in the 2019-2020 budget. The petitioners argue that by giving such “undue advantage”, the Government is treating Muslim community above law and the Constitution.” On this aspect, the petition also states,
The Government is showing undue favour to Waqf and Waqf properties denying the same benefit to the institutions of Hindu community like Trusts, Mutts, Akharas and other religious denominations…
… it is clear that Central Government has shown undue favour to Waqf properties denying same benefit to the properties managed by Hindu Trusts, Mutts and Akharas. It is clear that the Government is making discrimination with the members of Hindu community on the basis of religion and giving undue advantage and preference to the members of Muslim community and the properties occupied by Waqf Boards at the cost of tax payer money being paid by majority Hindu community thereby violating provisions contained in Article 15 and 27 of the Constitution of India.”
The petitioners go on to submit that taxpayer money cannot be used towards the implementation of such minority religion-based schemes, as the same would run counter to the secular ethos of the Constitution of India.
“… members of majority community similarly situated with those of minority communities are being deprived of the benefit being extended to religious minorities … The State cannot promote or give any benefit to any religious community whether minority or majority keeping in view the secular ethos embedded in the Constitution of India.”
As per the petitioners, the Government cannot be invested with the power to declare any Community as a Minority Community either. Rather, “It is for the Minority Community to establish the institution of its choice in accordance with Article 30 of the Constitution of India.”
While this is the case, the petitioners have attacked the constitutionality of the National Minority Commission, arguing that the Parliament cannot make any law for the benefit of religion.
Further, it is submitted that the Minority Commission is redundant in view of there being a Backward Classes Commission to find out the conditions of backward classes that need aid. This contention has been forwarded while arguing that religion should not form the basis of government aid, but rather that that only socio-economic backward status, regardless of religion, should be factored in.
“… there is no scope for the Minority Commission to judge the conditions of religious minorities separately. There can be no justification for appointing a commission over and above the Backward Class Commission.”
The petitioners add,
“… in absence of any report of any commission describing the notified minorities as socially and educationally backward classes the Central Government, the Parliament has no power or jurisdiction to initiate any schemes and provide financial help to them.”
In view of these, among other, submissions, the petitioners have made the following prayers:
On behalf of the Petitioners Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain told HENB, “spending Rs 4,800 Crores towards teaching skills to minorities & promoting their culture on religious basis is a gross violation of right to equality and discrimination to majority Hindus.
From source it is learnt that the on behalf of the Union, the Attorney General opined, “its a constitutional issue and it should be referred to 5 judges bench for decision.”
As the apex court was to issue Notice to the Union Government, Attorney General sought time to file reply for such a notice. Court allowed four weeks time to file affidavit and one week for rejoinder scheduling the list of the case in the month of March on a Tuesday.
Expressing his concern, the eminent Hindu interlocutor and Hinduexistence Website Editor, Upananda Brahmachari congratulated the petitioners and advocate in this instant case.
Taking his twitter handle, Brahmachari wrote, “I thank the petitioners Neeraj Shankar Saxena, Manish Sharma, Umesh Rawat, Arun Kr Singh, Shishupal Bhagel & Saurabh Singh of WP (C) No. 1568/2019 to stop the Muslim appeasement and deprivation to Hindus on religious grounds. Gratitude to @Vishnu_Jain1 for filling the writ in SC.“