SC notice on plea for benefits for J&K’s religious, linguistic minorities


New Delhi, July 12: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and others on a plea that Jammu and Kashmir’s religious and linguistic minorities should get benefits meant for these communities and these should not be usurped by others who are not entitled for them.

The apex court also issued notice to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the National Minorities Commission.

A bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur issued notice returnable in four weeks after petitioner Ankur Sharma said Muslims constituted 68 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir’s population and thus were not a “minority” in the state.

The public interest litigation sought that the benefits offered under the Prime Minister’s 15-point guidelines for the welfare of minorities should go to religious and linguistic minorities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sharma pointed out there was no minorities commission in Jammu and Kashmir.

The PIL urged for directions that the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act may be amended to make it applicable to the state so that its minorities too could get benefits made available to religious minorities in other states.

The court, however, refused to pass any interim order to block benefits of central schemes from being availed of by the Muslim majority in the northern state.

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.

It was the non-identification of religious and linguistic aminorities in Jammu and Kashmir and extension of minority benefits to unqualified sections of the population that has resulted in encroachment on their (religious and linguistic aminorities’) fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 29, 30, 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner said.

“Consequentially, all minority rights in Jammu and Kashmir have been left redundant, otiose and subject to arbitrary exercise of authority,” he said.

Sharma said he made a detailed representation on February 3 to all authorities concerned for securing rights and benefits available to religious and linguistic minorities in the state and to prevent their usurping by undeserving sections but got no response.

Seeking the appointment of an expert committee under the direct supervision of the apex court to identity religious and linguistic minorities in Jammu and Kashmir, the petitioner sought direction that the benefits meant for minority communities should be available to them only.

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