image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Legal Challenge to Sikh Minority Quota in Punjab Medical, Engineering Etc Colleges and to Sikh Student Scholarships

  • A petition filed by a Hindu organization contends that Minority Status should be determined at state []]suba] level instead of country (national) level.

  • The matter is to go before the Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India. The issue has significance because it seems another step backward for the Sikhs in India. (Col. Nirmal Singh) 

  • SGPC should become a party in the Supreme Court and engage senior lawyers (S Tarlochan Singh ex-MP and Minorities Commissioner)

On 31 August 2022, a Sikh scholar, wrote on a forum: In my View, as per Indian Constitution, Minority Status was decided at the country level and there is a mischief by present regime and Supreme court to implement it at State level. As per Govt. of India 1992 Act, five communities including Sikhs were given Minority Status all over the Country. Supreme Court has taken up stand in a petition filed by a Hindu organization that Minority Status should be on the State basis instead of Country.

In a recent Punjab TV discussion, ex-MP and Minorities Commissioner, S. Tarlochan Singh, has reminded the global Sikh community of yet another serious challenge facing the Sikhs of Punjab. In a forum communication he said that Sikhs have not appreciated the gravity of the issue. According to him, in Khalsa medical college Amritsar 106 Doctor come out every year because of Minority Quota. Similarly, both SGPC Engineering Colleges at Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib are producing about 300 Engineers under Minority Quota. All Sikh Schools in Punjab are entitled to give 50% seats to Sikh students. Lakhs of Sikh students are getting Minority  student Scholarship under this category. All these facilities would be withdrawn once the Minority status of the Sikh s is reversed.

A Sikh scholar, Col Nirmal Singh confirmed in a forum exchange that the magnitude of the problem is pretty significant in terms of Sikh students who get qualified as Doctors and Engineers per year and it is not easy to make it up, especially with a multiplicity of entry bars and merit considerations&hellip.. The legal history is a maze and both the High Court and Supreme Court may have issued contradictory views at different times.

There is a general confusion about what is minority status because it has not been defined in the Constitution and whether the status applies at country (national) level or state (suba) level. The impression gained is that the arguments presented by the Sikhs have yet to show why the application of minority status at state (suba) level will seriously detract from the constitutional safeguards provided to minorities by the Indian Constitution Articles 25 to 30. That is a task for top Sikh lawyers.

Sikhs are recognised as a Minority community at national level. They may or may not be a majority community in any one state but their constitutional rights as a distinct community, and their educational, economic and socio-cultural progress is relevant to and should be measured at NATIONAL LEVEL. It is non-sense to say that Minority status changes from place to place!

Such exploitation of constitutional ambiguities to prevent progress of minorities can threaten Indian unity. As for the Sikhs, once again, they are reminded of Anandpur Sahib Resolution seeking some sort of autonomous status.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant retd (UK)