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UP High Court stays earlier order on Muslims
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | April 06, 2007 18:42 IST
The order came in a special appeal moved by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government before a two-judge bench comprising Justices Rafat Alam and Krishna Murari, earlier on Friday.
The appeal challenged the validity of Thursday's order issued by a single judge bench of Justice S.N.Srivastava who had ruled, "Muslims are not entitled to be recognised as a religious minority."
While staying the earlier verdict, the larger bench termed it as violating judicial propriety. "Since another division bench had stayed a similar case dealing with the same questions of law, it was against judicial propriety for a single -- judge bench to hear the matter at all," Justice Alam observed in the open court.
The court has fixed May 14 as the next date for hearing in the case.
Uttar Pradesh Advocate General S M A Kazmi had earlier said the verdict by a single judge bench of Justice S N Srivastava could have far reaching consequences and could not be taken casually.
The Samajwadi Party, for whom the stay comes as a major reprieve, had said it would go to the Supreme Court if required.
The verdict had caused a sensation in the volatile political world of Uttar Pradesh where electioneering is in full swing for the seven-phase assembly polls.
Muslims comprise 18.5 percent of Uttar Pradesh's population of 166 million against the national figure of 13.1 per cent and were considered politically very crucial in determining the destiny of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, Justice Srivastava has drawn much flak from different quarters for his verdict, that said, "After applying the twin criterion of population and strength of a religious community as laid down by the founding fathers of the Indian constitution, as is clear from the proceedings of the constituent assembly, the court finds that Muslims have ceased to be a religious minority community in Uttar Pradesh."
Significantly, the question that was raised before Justice Srivastava was simply about inclusion of a minority institution in the government's list for the special grants given to such institutions. The petitioner, a Ghazipur based Madrasa Noor-ul-Islam, had sought the court's intervention against what it described as discriminatory approach of the administration in excluding it from the list of beneficiaries.
However, the judge not only turned down the plea but even questioned the very minority status of Muslims in the state, directing the state government, "...not to treat any member of the Muslim community as equal to other non-Muslim minority religious communities."