29 July, 2021

The Shramana Tradition Predates The Vedas

This decision could have come in 2005. A judicial misreading is to blame.

The Shramana Tradition Predates The Vedas

Rahul Gandhi’s demand and the cabinet’s decision to declare Jains a national minority is a welcome but overdue decision. It rectifies an inexplicable omission since a community based on a unique faith comprising less than 0.5 per cent of the population was nationally not recognised as a religious minority!

Apart from the general apathy of successive governments and the absence of a persistent demand by the Jain community, the main reason was the 2005 decision of the apex court in Bal Patil vs Union of India.

A strong advocate of a minority status for the community, Patil had petitioned the Supreme Court to notify Jains as a minority under the National Minorities Commission Act, 1992. The apex court, disagreeing with the petitioner’s contention, ought to have rejected the petition on the established legal principle that a direction cannot be issued to an authority to issue a notification where the statute gives a discretion in that regard.

Instead, the three-member bench did an exegesis as to how Jains were a part of Hinduism, how Jains...

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