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The Supreme Court criticized the Centre on Monday for delaying a 2020 petition that seeks to identify minorities at the state level and in states with low numbers. The court imposed a cost of Rs 7,500 as the government had not responded to the plea despite being given a final opportunity in January this year.

Justice S K Kaul, leading a two-judge bench, expressed disappointment at the Centre’s failure to file a response despite multiple chances. Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, representing the Centre, assured that the reply would be submitted soon and requested the court not to impose costs.

However, the bench, including Justice M M Sundresh, rejected the request and granted a further four-week opportunity with a cost of Rs 7,500. An additional two weeks would be given for a rejoinder, with the next hearing scheduled for March 28.

The petition by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay refers to the Supreme Court’s majority judgment in the 2002 TMA Pai case, which states that religious and linguistic minorities must be considered on a state-by-state basis for Article 30, which deals with their rights to establish and manage educational institutions.

The petition argues that the Centre has only recognized Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Zoroastrians as minorities under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, leaving out Hindus, Baha’is, and Jews from their rightful rights.

Furthermore, the petition challenges the constitutionality of Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, which allows the Centre to designate a group as a minority based on the 2011 Census report.

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