Supreme Court Of India
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Disposing of the appeal, the Court HELD : 1.1. In view of the general functions of the Commission enumerated under section 9 of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 which are only illustrative and not exhaustive, the Commission cannot be said to have transgressed its authority in entertaining representation, demands and counter-demands of members of Jain community for the status of `minority' Keeping in view the provisions of the Act, the recommendation made by the Commission in favour of the Jains is in the nature of advice and can have no binding effect. The power under section 2(c) of the Act vests in the Central Government which alone, on its own assessment, has to accept or reject the claim of status of minority by a community. [465-D-E] 1.2. After the verdict in TMA Pai Foundation case, the legal position stands clarified that henceforth the unit for determining status of both linguistic and religious minorities would be `state'. Henceforth, before the Central Government takes decision on claims of Jains as a `minority' under Section 2(c) of the Act, the identification has to be done on a state-wise basis. The power of Central Government has to be exercised not merely on the advice and recommendation of the Commission but on consideration of the social, cultural and religious conditions of the Jain community in each State. Statistical data produced to show that a community is numerically a minority cannot be the sole criterion. The provisions contained in the group of Article 25 to 30 is a protective umbrella against the possible deprivations of fundamental right of religious freedoms of religious and linguistic minorities. [465-F-G; 466-D-F] 2. Commissions set up for minorities have to direct their activities to maintain integrity and unity of India by gradually eliminating the minority and majority classes. If, only on the basis of a different religious thought or less numerical strength or lack of health, wealth, education, power or social rights, a claim of a section of Indian society to the status of `minority' is considered and conceded, there would be no end to such claims in a society as multi-religious and multi-linguistic as India is. In a caste-ridden Indian society, no section or distinct group of people can claim to be in majority. If each minority group feels afraid of the other group, an atmosphere of mutual fear and distrust would be created posing serious threat to the integrity of our Nation. That would sow seeds of multi-nationalism in India. It is, therefore, necessary that Minority Commission should act in a manner so as to prevent generating feelings of multinationalism in various sections of people of Bharat. The Commission instead of encouraging claims from different communities for being added to a list of notified minorities under the Act, should suggest ways and means to help create social conditions where the list of notified minorities is gradually reduced and done away with altogether. [472-C-F] T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka, [2002] 8 SCC 481, followed. U.U. Lalit, Prasenjit Keswani, Nitin Sangara, Amol Chitale and Prashant Kumar for the Appellants. B. Datta, Additional Solicitor General, Mrs. Rekha Pandey and Hemant Sharma, Advs. with him for the Respondents.

   

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