The Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruled on Tuesday that all Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley were not Kashmiri Pandits and could not avail of schemes meant only for the community, NDTV reported.

The court passed the judgement in response to petitions filed by several Hindu groups and Sikhs seeking that they should be allowed to apply for jobs provided under the Prime Minister’s 2009 package for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. The package was later also extended to non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, LiveLaw reported.

The petitioners contended that other Hindu communities and Sikhs have also suffered greatly and should be considered for benefits extended to Kashmiri Pandits.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar, however, held that Kashmiri Pandits constituted a “separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the Valley like Rajputs, Brahmins other than Kashmiri Pandits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and many others.”

The judge said that their argument was “preposterous and cannot be accepted”.

The court held that in the absence of a specific definition of “Kashmiri Pandits”, the meaning of the term used in common parlance should be applicable, The Hindu reported.

“There is no denying the fact that in common parlance, ‘Kashmiri Pandit’ is a community of Kashmiri-speaking Brahmins living in the Valley from generations and are distinctly identified by their dress, customs and traditions etc,” the court said.

Justice Kumar held that there was no merit in the petition and dismissed it.

Some members of the Kashmiri Hindu community will file an appeal against the verdict within the next sixty days, News18 quoted an unidentified Pandit leader as saying. He reportedly said that the members of the Hindu community have domicile certificates, and before the abrogation of Article 370, they had state subject certificates.

In the early 1990s, the eruption of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir led to a massive exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley to Jammu. Most estimates say that 76,000 Pandit families left the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s.