The court said providing monetary benefit to any community on religious lines violates Article 15(1) of the Constitution.
However, the bench which announced this decision did not act on it for a contradictory view had been taken by another division bench three years earlier. The issue was referred to a larger bench for further decision. The bench which gave the ruling comprised Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala.
The bench gave its ruling while hearing the issue on Narendra Modi's government's non-implementation of a scheme of the central government which provides pre-matriculation scholarships to children belonging to five minorities in the state.
The state government refused to implement the scheme saying it would not act to benefit a student from one particular region as that would mean violating the Constitution. The Centre countered by saying that the scheme aimed at development of the backward groups and several other states had accepted it.
The petitioner's counsel, Hashim Qureshi, accused the state govrnment of being biased against a particular community and hence was not interested in the welfare scheme.
The division bench, however, refused to direct the state to implement the scheme.
In 2009, a similar case came into focus when a former BJP MLA Vijay Patel filed a PIL against the Centre's 15-point programme for minority development. Then, the bench comprising Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi turned down the PIL and upheld the Centre's move on minorities.
The court had said then that funds used to minimise inequalities among minority communities by means of social welfare schemes do not violate constitutional principles of equality or the fundamental rights.