Published on: January 18, 2023

Identifying minorities

Identifying minorities

Why in news? The Supreme Court expressed displeasure over six states and Union Territories (UTs), including Jammu and Kashmir, not yet giving their comments to the Centre on the issue of identification of minorities at the state level.


  • Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, referred to the recent status report filed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs which said that 24 states and six UTs have so far furnished their comments on the issue.
  • The status report, filed in the Supreme Court, said that comments from six states and UTs — Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan, and Telangana — are still awaited.

What’s the issue?

  • Central government has power to identify the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as minority communities
  • Majority of States and Union Territories wanted the task of identifying minorities to the Centre or preferring status quo
  • While other states identified maintaining that minorities should be identified at the State level

Commission’s  View

  • The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) agrees with the definition of ‘minority’ not on a nationwide basis but State-wise
  • Commission quoted T.M.A. Pai Foundation judgment stating a minority, (linguistic or religious) , is determinable only by reference to the demography of the State and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole

About  National Commission for Minorities

  • Statutory act: National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • Parent Commission: Ministry of Minority Affairs
  • Minority religious communities: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains
  • Original notification of 1993 was for five religious communities, later in 2014, Jains community was also added
  • Indian Constitution does not define the word Minority, but provides constitutional safeguard

Composition of Commission

  • Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson
  • Five Members to be nominated by the Central Government, provided that five members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities.