Thursday, June 30, 2022

'Take a stand': SC to Centre on plea on minority education institution law

IANS | January 31, 2022 10:43 PM

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its discontent, as Centre filed no response on a plea challenging the validity of section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act 2004, and imposed a cost of Rs 7,500.

As a bench of Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh was informed that Centre has circulated a letter requesting an adjournment in the matter, it told the Centre's counsel that it is only circulating letters and has not taken a stand on the matter so far. "How long will you take?" it asked.

The plea, filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, also sought direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines for identification of minorities at the state level, saying the Hindus are in minority in 10 states but are not able to avail the benefits of schemes meant for minorities.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the petitioner, objected to the letter circulated by the Centre and insisted that the government's stand in the matter is important.

The bench told Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, who was appearing for the Centre, to take stand in the matter and he said that the government would comply.

At this, the court pointed out that notice was issued on the plea in August 2020, and told the counsel not to make an excuse, which is very difficult to accept.

The bench said it is not fair that a counter-affidavit has not been filed by the Centre so far, and said it must apply Article 14, equality before law, uniformly, adding that not imposing cost on Centre and imposing cost on others, is not fair.

The bench told the Centre's counsel it will grant one further opportunity of four weeks and asked it to deposit a cost of Rs 7,500 to the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocates' Welfare Fund.

The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on March 28.

On January 7, the top court had granted "last opportunity" to the Centre to file a counter-affidavit within four weeks, saying the government will have to take a stand on the issue.

The plea challenged the validity of section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act, 2004 for allegedly giving unbridled power to the Centre and being manifestly arbitrary, irrational and offending.

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