The Union government recently informed the Supreme Court (SC) that state governments can now grant minority status to any religious or linguistic group, including Hindus.
The Supreme Court had sought the Union government’s response in a petition seeking directions for the development of guidelines for identifying minorities at the state level.
The term “minorities” appears in a few articles of the Constitution but is never defined.
The petition claimed that Hindus are a’minority’ in six Indian states and three Union Territories but were allegedly unable to benefit from minority-specific schemes.
Plea According to the 2011 census, Hindus have become a minority in Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%), and Punjab (38.40 percent ).
In these states, they should be granted minority status in accordance with the principle established by the Supreme Court in its 2002 TMA Pai Foundation and 2005 Bal Patil Case rulings.
TMA Pai Case: The Supreme Court ruled that religious and linguistic minorities must be considered state-wise for the purposes of Article 30, which deals with minorities’ rights to establish and administer educational institutions.
In its 2005 decision in ‘Bal Patil,’ the Supreme Court referred to the TMA Pai ruling.
The legal position clarifies that the’state’ will now be the unit for determining the status of both linguistic and religious minorities.
According to the petition, the NCMEI (National Commission for Minority Education Institution) Act of 2004 gives the Centre unrestricted power and is “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, and offending.”
Section 2(f) of the NCMEI Act of 2004 gives the Centre the authority to identify and notify minority communities in India.
The petitioners’ argument, according to the Centre, is incorrect because states can also “certify institutions as being minority institutions in accordance with the rules of the said state.”
The Centre noted that Jews were designated as a minority community in Maharashtra in 2016, and Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lamani, Hindi, Konkani, and Gujarati were designated as minority languages in Karnataka.
Parliament and state legislatures have concurrent authority to enact legislation to protect minorities and their interests.
Matters such as declaring Judaism, Bahaism, and Hinduism followers who are minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Manipur to be minorities and establishing guidelines for minority identification at the state level may be considered by the concerned state governments.
The TMA Pai decision also “shows that the Supreme Court has nowhere eroded the Central Government’s power to notify a community as a’minority.'”
Article 246 of the Constitution, read with Entry 20, “economic and social planning,” of the Concurrent List, empowered Parliament to enact laws to promote and protect the interests of minorities.
Under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992, Parliament has the legislative authority and the Central Government has the executive authority to notify a community as a minority.
It states that any group of citizens residing in any part of India who speak, write, or practise a distinct language, script, or culture has the right to preserve that language, script, or culture.
It provides protection to both religious and linguistic minorities.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that the scope of this article is not necessarily limited to minorities alone, because the term “section of citizens” in the Article refers to both minorities and the majority.
states that all minorities have the right to establish and manage educational institutions of their choice.
Article 30 protects only minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not apply to any other group of citizens (as under Article 29).
The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act of 1956 added this article, which provides for the appointment of a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities by the President of India.
The Special Officer would be responsible for investigating all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities.
Currently, only communities notified by the central government under section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, are considered minority communities.
With the passage of the NCM Act, 1992, the MC was elevated to the status of statutory body and renamed the NCM.
The first Statutory National Commission was established in 1993, and five religious communities, namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parisis), were designated as minority communities.
Jains were also designated as a minority community in 2014.
The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, was recently introduced in Lok Sabha.
It would enable police and prison authorities to collect, store, and analyse physical and biological samples such as retina and iris scans.
Resisting or refusing to allow the taking of measurements under this Act is an offence under Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code.
It will also attempt to apply these provisions to individuals detained under any preventive detention law.
It also allows for the measurement of convicts and “other persons” for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal cases.
It does not define “other persons,” implying that its scope extends beyond convicts, arrested people, and detainees.
Power to Record Measurements: Police officers up to the rank of Head Constable have been given the authority to record measurements.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will house physical and biological samples, as well as signature and handwriting data that can be kept for at least 75 years.
The NCRB also has the authority to share the records with any other law enforcement agency.
Using Modern Techniques: The bill includes provisions for using modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
The existing law, the Identification of Prisoners Act, was enacted in 1920 and permitted only fingerprint and footprint impressions of a select group of convicted individuals.
Assist Investing Firms:
The Bill seeks to broaden the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken in order to assist investigating agencies in gathering sufficient legally admissible evidence and establishing the accused person’s crime.
Increase the Conviction Rate: The bill provides legal sanction for taking appropriate body measurements of persons who are required to give such measurements, making the investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious, as well as helping to increase the conviction rate.
It has been argued that the Bill exceeded Parliament’s legislative authority because it violated citizens’ fundamental rights, including the right to privacy.
The Bill proposes collecting samples from protestors who are engaged in political protests.
It is a violation of Article 20(3) of the Constitution. The Bill implied the use of force in gathering biological information, which could lead to narcoanalysis and brain mapping.
According to Article 20(3), “no person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.”
It also violates the United Nations charter’s human rights provisions.
Furthermore, the implied use of force in clause 6(1) to take measurements violates the rights of prisoners enshrined in a string of Supreme Court decisions dating back to A K Gopalan in 1950, Kharag Singh in 1964, Charles Sobhraj in 1978, Sheela Barse in 1983, and Pramod Kumar Saxena in 2008.
It is a project aimed at developing a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing via e-Government.
The Home Ministry is working on integrating the Central Fingerprint Bureau’s (CFPB) fingerprint database and the NIST Fingerprint Image Software (NFIS).
NFIS is a fingerprint matching technology used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States.
The government is also working to increase the amount of data collected.
While the FBI has over 4 crore fingerprints in its database, the CFPB only has slightly more than 10 lakh.
The Union Cabinet recently approved the continuation of the Polar Science and Cryosphere (PACER) scheme from 2021 to 2026.
Knowledge of Biogeochemical Processes: Field research was carried out in the lakes of Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica, to better understand biogeochemical processes in supraglacial environments.
The IndARC mooring system, as well as the Hydrophone system, were successfully recovered and deployed in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard.
Himalayan Research Projects: Glaciological field campaigns were conducted in six benchmark glaciers in the Lahaul-Spiti region of the Western Himalaya’s Chandra basin.
Snow pits and snow corners were used to measure the amount of snow that fell on the glaciers during the winter.
Automatic Weather Station (AWS) Systems: To strengthen infrastructure across the Chandra basin, two new AWS systems were installed at Baralacha La, a high elevation site in the arid Spiti region.
Southern Ocean Expedition: The 11th Indian Southern Ocean Expedition was successfully completed.
It is a self-contained institute within the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
It is in charge of the management and upkeep of the Indian Antarctic Research Bases “Maitri” and “Bharati,” as well as the Indian Arctic base “Himadri.”
Management of the Ministry’s research vessel Ocean Research Vehicle (ORV) Sagar Kanya, as well as the Ministry’s other research vessels chartered.
The ORV Sagar Kanya is a versatile ocean observation platform outfitted with cutting-edge scientific equipment and related facilities.
Facilitating scientific research activities carried out by several national institutions and organisations in Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean.
Taking the lead in geoscientific surveys of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf beyond 200 metres, deep-sea drilling in the Arabian Sea basin through the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), and exploration for ocean non-living resources such as gas hydrates and multi-metal sulphides in mid-ocean ridges.
It is situated in the Indian state of Goa.
Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resource Modeling, and Science at IndARC (O-SMART)
The ACROSS Scheme
In 2007, India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean.
In July 2008, India established the “Himadri” research base in Svalbard, Norway, to conduct research in fields such as glaciology, atmospheric sciences, and biological sciences.
Alopecia areata is a common non-contagious auto-immune disorder characterised by patchy hair loss.
It can sometimes cause complete hair loss on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in severe cases, the entire body (alopecia universalis).
It may also develop slowly and reoccur periodically or repeatedly after years of inactivity.
Anyone, regardless of age or gender, can be affected by the condition, though most cases occur before the age of 30.
The condition occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in visible patches of hair loss.
It is most common in people who have a family history of auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and thyroid disease.
Alopecia areata is incurable and there is no cure. It can, however, be treated using both medical and natural methods.
Corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory drug that can suppress the immune system, are the most commonly used medical treatment.
Local injections, topical ointment application, and oral administration are the most common methods of administration. Light therapy is another option.
Certain substances, such as zinc and biotin, aloe vera drinks and topical gels, and onion juice, are sometimes recommended for scalp application.
Tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint oils, as well as coconut, castor, olive, and jojoba oil, can all be beneficial.
Alopecia areata is also treated with an anti-inflammatory diet that primarily consists of meats and vegetables, scalp massages, and herbal supplements such as ginseng, green tea, and Chinese hibiscus, among others.
The Indian Army has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the supply of Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) for use in Ladakh and Kutch.
The Articulated All-Terrain Vehicle is a tracked, amphibious carrier with twin cabins for off-road mobility.
This equipment’s unique design reduces ground pressure on the soil, and a pull-push mode of locomotion between two cabins allows for mobility in a variety of terrains such as snow, desert, and slush.
According to the RFI document, 12 vehicles must be supplied to Nimu in Ladakh (snow-bound areas) and six to Bhuj in Gujarat (marshy terrain of the Rann of Kutch).
According to the RFI document, the vehicle should be able to perform at 18,000 feet in glaciated and snowbound conditions, as well as in salty/dry marshes.