Referring to the home minister’s letter to chief ministers to review cases of terrorism against “members of minority communities,” Jaitley said: “Obviously, he has only religious minority and not linguistic minority in mind”.
“He expects the state government to set up review committees to deal with cases against a category of citizens and not all persons who have been charged of terrorism offences. This raises certain fundamental questions with regard to the propriety and the legality of the move initiated by the home minister,” Jaitley said on his blog.
“The move is clearly political. There are several persons charged with offences of terror in India. The provisions have been invoked against those associated with certain radical Islamic groups,” he said.
“Such a move is clearly unconstitutional. Article 14 guarantees to every citizen a right to equality. There can be a reasonable classification based on intelligible and distinctive criteria,” he added.
In a letter that has generated a political controversy, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday asked all state chief ministers to be “careful” while arresting minorities.
The home minister wrote to state chief ministers on detention procedures, asking them to form a panel to review cases of people jailed without trial. “Release minority youths if they are illegally detained,” Shinde wrote.
“The advisory of the home minister to states to discriminate between criminals on the basis of religion is based on an improper policy. It violates the constitutional guarantee of equality… The states are not bound by such unconstitutional directives of the home minister,” Jaitely said.