SC asks Centre, J&K government to decide Muslim minority status in state
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing in the court on behalf of Centre said it is a national issue as in some states the community, which is part of minorities nationally, is in majority.
The Supreme Court on 27 March 2017 asked the Union and the Jammu and Kashmir governments to sit together and decide contentious issues including the question whether Muslims can be treated as a minority in the state.
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar asked both the governments to resolve the issue and submit a report to it within four weeks. The other members of the bench were Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul.
Terming the issue as a very important one, the bench had asked both governments should sit together and take a stand on it.
In February 2017, the court imposed a cost of Rs 30000 on the union government for not filing its reply on a PIL alleging that minority benefits are being enjoyed by majority Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court had accorded the last opportunity to the Centre to file its reply, saying the matter is very important. The court had allowed the counsel for the Centre to file the response after depositing the cost.
Earlier, the top court had issued a notice to the Centre, the state government and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the plea filed by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma. Sharma in his PIL has alleged that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims, who were in a majority in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sharma in his plea also alleged t hat the rights of religious and linguistic minorities of the state were syphoned off illegally and arbitrarily due to the extension of benefits to unqualified sections of the population. He also had sought for the establishment of the state minority commission for identification of minorities.
The PIL also alleges that communities that are eligible to be notified as minorities were not awarded the due share due to non-identification as minorities. This unavailability of the minority status and absence of due share in benefits are jeopardising their constitutionally guaranteed rights that is enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India.
Muslim population in Jammu and Kashmir: According to the 2011 Census, the population of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir is 68.31 per cent.