New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking minority status for Hindus in eight states. “Religion must be considered pan India for declaring a group as a minority,” the bench said.

BJP spokesperson, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay moved the petition seeking minority rights in the eight states if Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Ashwini Upadhyay had filed the petition before previous CJI Ranjan Gogoi in 2017 and it was dismissed at that time also. The petitioner had challenged the validity of the Centre’s 26-year-old notification that listed five communities — Parsis, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists as minorities.

“Languages may be restricted state-wise… but religions don’t have state borders. We have to take a pan-India approach. In Lakshadweep Muslims follow the Hindu law,” the three-member bench, which included Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant apart from Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, observed, adding, “We don’t agree with you (the petitioner). What guidelines can we pass? Courts haven’t declared anyone as minority… it is government which does it”.

The Supreme Court had earlier consulted Attorney General KK Venugopal in this matter and was told Hindus are the minority population in eight states and Union Territories. These include Punjab, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep.

The timing of the verdict assumes significance as there is a growing wave of protests against the government’s new citizenship law, which grants citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs and Jains fleeing religious persecution in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.