New Delhi: The Supreme Court was on Monday told that the Jammu and Kashmir government was agreeable “in principle” to consider setting up the State Minorities Commission but without giving any time frame.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was told that the state had given indication that it will “consider and examine the need and feasibility of setting up the State Minorities Commission at a relevant point of time as and when need arises.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the court that the setting up of panel for identifying minority communities will be based on a critical study of social and educational backwardness of minorities across various regions.
Considering the special needs of minorities residing in the state, a special project – ‘Chief Minister’s Inclusive Development Initiative’ – is being formulated by the state government.
The project will have focused development efforts for certain special segments of society, including the minorities, and include upgradation of civic infrastructure such as health, education, water, and scholarship schemes for students not covered by central schemes framed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Recording the state’s position, the court disposed a petition by advocate Ankur Sharma.
The court declined Sharma’s plea for direction to extend the operation of the National Minority Commission Act, 1992, to the state. The court said it can’t issue such a direction.
Sharma had sought the setting up of the State Minority Commission and the identifications of religious and linguistic minorities and address the question whether Muslims could be treated as a minority in the state.
The petitioner sought directions for amendment to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act to make it applicable to the state so that its minorities too could get benefits made available to religious minorities in other states.
The petitioner said the religious and linguistic minorities in Jammu and Kashmir were deprived of their lawful share in the central schemes for minorities since it was being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily by people not entitled to it.
The petitioner also sought the appointment of an expert committee under the supervision of the apex court to identity religious and linguistic minorities in Jammu and Kashmir.