New Delhi, Feb 9: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a reply from the government on a plea seeking transfer of cases from several High Courts to it, challenging the Centre's notification to declare five communities -- Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis -- as minorities.

The High Courts at Delhi, Meghalaya and Guwahati are already seized of the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. In October 1993, the notification was issued under this Act, which declared the five communities as minorities across the country. The transfer plea filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay argued as a result of this notification, majority population of Sikhs in Punjab and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir have received benefits, which were originally meant for minorities.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs. Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan represented Upadhyay in the matter in the top court.

Upadhyay had moved the top court seeking transfer of all cases from the High Courts to itself, in order to decide the issue.