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BJP-governed states are divided over the classification of religious minorities.

Gujarat, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, which are all run by the BJP, agree with the current system of identifying and notifying religious minorities at the national level, which leaves Hindus off the list. However, Assam and Uttarakhand, which are also run by the BJP, think that the unit of identification of minorities should be the state, as the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark T M A Pai case in 2002.

In response to a petition by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking a directive to implement the T.M.A. Pai judgement so that Hindus in areas where they are a minority receive minority status, the central government has been having meetings with various states and Union Territories.

The Center stated in its affidavit to the Supreme Court that 24 states and 6 Union territories had given their opinions. Four states – Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Jharkhand – and two union territories — Jammu & Kashmir, and Lakshadweep – had not yet submitted their opinions.

While Gujarat stated, “We are satisfied with the current method for defining minority populations,” Madhya Pradesh stated, “The existing law shall be adhered to.” Karnataka said like the Center, it, too, had recognised Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Parsis as minority communities on the recommendation of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission and “in view of this, the stand of the state of Karnataka remains status quo”.

The state of Maharashtra, where the BJP is in coalition with the Shiv Sena, has designated six populations as religious minorities and those who do not speak Marathi as linguistic minorities. The state also supported retaining the central government’s notification authority over minorities. “The federal government may utilise census data and, with state collaboration, notify minority communities in the affected state,” it states.

While favouring the state as the unit for defining religious minorities, Manipur stated that “any religious group comprising less than fifty percent of the state’s population should be recognised as a religious minority group of the state.”

In April 2013, Punjab announced that it had approved the 2012 Punjab State Commission for Minorities Act and designated Jains as a minority. It stated that “in India, different groups are majorities or minorities in various provinces/states…. Considering the foregoing as well as the geographical and socioeconomic characteristics of the state of Punjab, only the state government is in a position to better understand the interests, well-being, and issues of the many sections/communities dwelling inside the state. As the state of Punjab has the authority to make and notify laws, it is crucial that it continues to do so in order to protect minorities and secure their interests.

Tamil Nadu acknowledged that the state must be the unit in accordance with the T.M.A. Pai case, but added a disclaimer. It stated that in the 2005 Bal Patil case, a three-judge bench had “warned” about the potential negative repercussions of supporting religious minority status claims. “In light of the foregoing, it is believed that, even if the unit is considered to be the state, religious minority status cannot be granted solely on the basis of a state’s population, but should also take into account factors such as the actual or probable deprivation of religious, cultural, and educational rights, as well as their socioeconomic status,” the document stated.

Though Goa and Tripura, both governed by the BJP, responded, they did not address the exact question.

The AAP government of Delhi has asserted that adherents of Judaism and Bahaism living in the nation’s capital constitute a religious minority and that it will not oppose if the federal government grants them minority status. It stated that followers of Hinduism are not a religious minority in the national capital territory of Delhi, “but the central government may declare’migrated minority’ status to the followers of Hinduism who are a religious minority in their origin state (i.e. J&K, Ladakh, etc.) and who have migrated to Delhi from their home state.”

Kerala favoured the continuation of the provisions of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 and the National Commission for Minority Act, 1992 “unless the Honorable Supreme Court adopts a different view in the present case.”


Landmark ruling

In the 2002 T M A Pai case, the Supreme Court ruled that religious and linguistic minorities must be designated at the state level for the purposes of Article 30, which addresses the rights of minorities to establish and govern educational institutions.

Himachal Pradesh supported the identification of religious minorities at the national level, whilst Andhra Pradesh, ruled by the YSR Congress, favoured identification at the state level. The reply from Himachal is dated September 2022, when the BJP was still in control of the state.

The Union Territories that answered stated that as they did not have an elected legislature, they would follow what the Centre recommended. However, Puducherry stated that Hindus were the majority in the UT and that neither Bahaism nor Judaism existed there.

West Bengal stated that the state was governed by the Minorities Commission Act of 1996, under which Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Odia, Santali, and Gurmukhi speakers are recognised as linguistic minorities, and Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jains are recognized as religious minorities. It stated that “the power to declare a community a minority should be vested in state governments and UTs.”

Odisha stated that the six communities notified by the Center are also minorities in the state, adding that “there is no reason to remove any of these six minority communities from the list…”



Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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