The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government to review whether Hindus and other non-Muslim communities were minorities in the state and thus entitled to reservation benefits. The bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, asked the authorities concerned to submit their proposal within four weeks, reported The Indian Express.

The court made these observations on Monday while hearing a PIL filed by advocate Ankur Sharma. The petitioner claimed that non-Muslims were minorities in terms of religion and language. The bench said, “We do appreciate that it is a very important issue. The manner in which minority status has been granted has to be kept in mind.”

Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who represented the Centre, said the Law Ministry was in the process of examining the matter. He also hinted at forming minority commissions in the state.

Lawyer Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for the Jammu and Kashmir government, also batted for a state minority commission. “A state is responsible for protecting its minorities... I have urged the state government to take up this issue on a priority basis and collaborate with the Central government,” he said, according to The Indian Express.

The Valley has seen an exodus of Kashmiri Pandits after militancy broke out in the 1990s. The subject of repatriating them has gained significance in recent months. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti drew flak in May 2016 for comparing displaced Kashmiris to pigeons, whom she suggested would be set upon by cats if they were brought back to the conflict-ridden state. On January 19, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a unanimous resolution for the return of all migrants who have moved out of the state in the past 27 years.