The Supreme Court on Friday granted a “last opportunity” to the Union government to reply to a petition seeking guidelines for identifying minorities at the state level, PTI reported.

The public interest litigation, filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, states that Hindus are a minority in ten states and Union Territories, but cannot avail of schemes for them.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, asked for more time to file a reply. A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh asked the government to submit its reply within four weeks.

Upadhyay sought a fixed date of hearing, but the court said it will hear the matter after seven weeks.

“Look at the environment,” the judges said. “Let it stabilise. Next week we are taking only urgent matters. We do not know how things will work out in the next two-three weeks.”

Representing the petitioner, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan demanded that pleas raising similar points in various High Courts should be transferred to the Supreme Court. The petitions challenge a notification of the Union government declaring five communities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis – as minorities.

The Supreme Court accepted the demand and clubbed the petitions before the High Court with the plea before it.

Upadhyay also sought a direction that followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism can establish minority educational institutions in states where they are in a minority.

“Hindus are real minority in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur,” the petition stated, according to The Indian Express. “But their minority rights are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily...because neither Centre nor respective states have notified them as minority under Section 2(c) of the NCM [National Commission for Minorities] Act.”

He contended that the judgement of the Supreme in the TMA Pai case states that for the purposes of Article 30 of the Constitution (minorities’ right to establish educational institutes), minorities have to be considered state-wise.