Srinagar, Dec 10: Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC) – an influential civil society group with membership across regions and communities in Jammu and Kashmir – has asked the state government to take a firm stand on a petition challenging the minority benefits of Muslims before the Supreme Court.
In a statement today, the group said the state government should take a firm stand in the matter, “so that petitioner doesn’t get a walkover.”
It said an “unfavourable outcome” in the petition could hit the interests of the state as well as its subjects adversely.
The group comprises M Shafi Pandit, former chairman J&K Public Service Commission (Retd. IAS); Hasnain Masoodi former Judge J&K High Court; G.R. Sufi former chief information commissioner, (Retd. IRS); Abdul Wahid Qureshi, former vice chancellor Kashmir University, founder vice chancellor Central University; Fayaz A Kaloo, editor-in-chief, Greater Kashmir; Nusrat Andrabi, former Principal Govt College for Woman; Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times (Jammu); and other former academics and bureaucrats.
The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the petition challenging minority benefits to Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, even as all eyes are on the government of India’s stand on the issue having implications on five other states and a union territory.
The petition filed by a Jammu-based lawyer Ankur Sharma is listed on Monday (December 11) before the Chief Justice’s Court.
The hearing assumes significance given the fact that both the state and central government are dealing with the issue jointly and had constituted a committee comprising representatives from central ministries and the state government to find solutions to “difficulties of minorities” in the state.
In the PIL, the petitioner has sought scrapping of the minority benefits to Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that they are in majority in the state. He has also sought directions for setting up of a minority commission in Jammu and Kashmir and extension of the National Minorities Commission to the state.
The GCC said the petition loses sight of the fact that the central government in exercise of the powers under section 2(c) has declared Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and now Jains as national minorities of India. “The national minorities have been identified and declared in the context of India as a whole. A national minority, therefore, will not lose such status only because in a particular sate or part thereof it is in majority.”
It said: “The affirmative action schemes flow out of part III of Constitution and not The National Commission for Minorities Act 1992 and non application of the Act to J&K or for that matter to any other state cannot deprive national minorities of any benefit under such schemes.”
The group said the state government cannot afford to show any laxity or complacency in this matter. “The state would have to get its act together to defend its case, as the matter has a crucial bearing on the subjects of Jammu and Kashmir.”