AMU minority status: Let's not comment on political personalities, says SC

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) "Let's not comment on political personalities," the Supreme Court on Wednesday told a lawyer who took names of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and others while arguing on a question concerning minority status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

The observation came from Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was heading a seven-judge constitution bench, after the lawyer argued that Muslims are "not minority as they are in a position to affect the electoral outcome".

"Muslims as a minority affect the elections and that is if Bhindranwale was creation of Mrs Gandhi, then Owaisi is a creation of BJP. They want to divide the Muslim vote," the lawyer argued, apparently referring to AIMIM leaders without specifically identifying them.

"We will not steer away from the area of constitutional law," the CJI said, adding, "Let's not comment on political personalities".

The lawyer said as per the 2011 census, Muslims were 14.2 per cent of the country's population.

"This court is not competent to decide this question whether they affect any elections or not. That is why I have mentioned that your lordships may have some kind of commission to go into this question," he said.

To this, the CJI said, "So according to you, Muslims are in a position to affect electoral outcomes and therefore, they are not a minority".

The lawyer said, "Yes".

The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Surya Kant, J B Pardiwala, Dipankar Datta, Manoj Misra and Satish Chandra Sharma, heard submissions of several lawyers during the day's proceeding. The arguments remained inconclusive and would continue on Thursday.

The issue of AMU's minority status has been caught in a legal maze for the last several decades.

The top court had on February 12, 2019 referred to a seven-judge bench the contentious issue for adjudication. A similar reference was made earlier. PTI ABA ABA KVK KVK