Defining minority: what the constitution says; how SC has ruled:
In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs said “state governments can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a ‘minority community’ within the state”.
Who are the Minorities?
- Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zorastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
- As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
- The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
- The Constitution recognizes Religious minorities in India and Linguistic minorities in India through Article 29 and Article 30.
- But Minority is not defined in the Constitution.
- Currently, the Linguistic minorities in India are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas Religious minorities in India are determined by the Central Government.
- The Parliament has the legislative powers and the Centre has the executive competence to notify a community as a minority under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992.
Various states on Minorities
- The Centre gave the example of how Maharashtra notified ‘Jews’ as a minority community within the State.
- Again, Karnataka notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lambadi, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages within the State.
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