New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice on a plea challenging the constitutionality of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, and the extension of the government welfare schemes to the religious minorities by utlising taxpayer money.
A bench comprising Justices R.F. Nariman and S.R. Bhat issued a notice on a plea filed by followers of the Sanatan Vedic Dharam, who are members of the Hindu community. The writ petition was filed by Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain.
The petitioners also challenged the constitutional validity of establishment of National Minority Commission by Central Act, as Parliament cannot make any law for the benefit of any religion maybe, for minority religious groups.
Also, the special benefit and advantage within the sweep of Article 15(4) can be provided only to those communities who are found ''socially and educationally backward'' classes of citizens by a Commission established under Article 340 of the Constitution.
"From tax payer money, no religion or religious groups can be promoted and therefore, no Minority Commission can be created to achieve the purposes enumerated in the Act", said the plea.
The petitioners cited that they are being unconstitutionally deprived of benefits available to similarly situated members of religious minorities through government welfare schemes, in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 27 of the Constitution.
The petition contends that recognising religious minorities and extending special benefits to them, while excluding similarly placed Hindus, adversely affects the integrity of India.
"The Government and Parliament of India cannot promote minoritism and cannot show inclination towards them and allure them to flourish by initiating beneficial programs for them. Such an action will be detrimental for the Sovereignty and Integrity of India and give rise to separatists and may create a situation for another division of the nation", said the plea.
A specific challenge has also been made to the constitutionality of the National Minorities Commission as well, which has been contended as a fraud on the Constitution.
"The purpose of establishing minority commission is unconstitutional and also the initiation of beneficial schemes for religious minorities is fraud on the constitution and misuse of power being committed by the Central Government to appease a section of the society at the cost of national integration", said the petiton.
The act of the government to restrict welfare schemes and scholarships to only religious minorities discriminates against the Hindu community on the ground of religion.
"The Government is showing undue favour to Waqf and Waqf properties denying the same benefit to the institutions of Hindu community like Trusts, Mutts, Akharas and other religious denominations...", said the plea.
The petition urged the top court to declare that the Centre has no right, jurisdiction and power to grant benefits from tax payer money on the schemes framed in favour of notified religious minority communities.