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SC notice to Centre on identification of minorities in Jammu & Kashmir


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government on a PIL which alleged that benefits for minorities were being siphoned off by majority Muslim population in the state.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and D Y Chandrachud, issued notices to Ministry of Minority Affairs of Jammu & Kashmir government, National Minority Commission and others seeking their replies on the plea which also sought the setting up of State Minority Commission for identification of minorities.

However, the court refused to restrain authorities from disbursing benefits to any community in the state and asked the parties to respond to the issue within four weeks.

The apex court was hearing a PIL by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma who alleged that rights of religious and linguistic ‘minorities’ in the state were being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily” due to extension of benefits to unqualified sections of the population.

“The population of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir according to the 2011 Census is 68.31 per cent. Communities which are eligible to be notified as minorities, were not awarded their due share of scholarship owing to their non-identification as minorities, thereby jeopardising their constitutionally guaranteed rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India. This clearly reflects the unfairness and discrimination of the State towards the communities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which are eligible to be notified as minorities,” the petition alleged.

The plea also sought directions to consider extension of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 to Jammu and Kashmir and make amendments so that the benefits available to minorities of other states could also be given to the minorities of J and K.

“Appoint a committee of experts functioning under the direct supervision of this court to submit a comprehensive report identifying communities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir which qualify as religious and linguistic minorities… Constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a High Court Judge (retired) working under direct supervision of this Court for investigating the illegal and arbitrary disbursement of minority benefits under the Prime Minister’s 15 point Programme to the communities,” the PIL said.

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