This piece of the paper focuses on the Rights of Minorities which is given under the Constitution of India. Rights are the reasonable claim recognized by the state. Constitution of India provides various rights to the citizens, some of them deal with the Rights of minorities. As we can see in the preamble of our constitution it talks about Justice -Social, and Political. It also provides Liberty of thought & worship and equality in all the spheres along with the security of unity and integrity of India. Constitution of India is divided into numbers of parts different parts deals with different titles. Rights of minorities are specifically given under part III of the Constitution from Article 14 to Article 30 and apart from part III some of the rights for linguistic minorities are given under part XVII of the Indian Constitution, but who are minorities is not defined anywhere under the Constitution. As judiciary is for interpreting the laws the Supreme Court of India time to time defines the term minorities along with the rights of minorities. The present piece of the paper deals with all the constitutional provisions regarding the rights of minorities.
Rights, Indian Constitution, equality, Justice, Minorities, Judiciary
The minority is a non-dominant group of individual who shares certain National, ethical, religious, and linguistic characteristics which are different from the majority population. It can be said that minorities are one of the disadvantages group which required protection to obtain political along with social stability and peace, therefore harmonious relation between minority and majority and respect for each other’s identity proves to be a great asset for the peaceful coexistence of multi-ethnic and multicultural diversity of society. In fact, looking after the needs and necessity of these minorities protects the dignity and provide equality to all individuals and lessen the burden between groups and individual.
18 December marks the adoption of the declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities by the UN in 1992. Article 29&30 and guarantee certain cultural and educational rights to various cultural religious and linguistic minorities located in India.
WHO ARE MINORITIES-
The framers of the Constitution well defined the rights of minorities but who are minorities and who constitute minorities is not defined anywhere in the Constitution. In a simple language, minorities are a group of people who are less in number in comparison with the rest of the population of a state. The Supreme Court of India is working as the final interpreter of the law and the Supreme Court holds the power to do so. Under this power it is held that if a community is less than 50% in the particular region then it will be considered as minorities so according to that Christian, Anglo Indian, Muslim would be minorities in Kerala.
According to section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 – Six Communities comes under Minorities i.e. Sikh, Muslim, Jain, Christian, Buddhist& Zoroastrian.
It was held in T.A.M Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka case that for determining the Ambit of Article 30 a minority can be linguistic or religious but it must be as per the reference to a state but the population of the whole country isn’t taken into consideration.
In Bal Patil v. Union of India case it was held that for determining the community as a minority, it has to be done on the basis of a state, not on all India basis.
RIGHTS OF MINORITIES AND CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS-
The rights of minorities can be easily understood with the help of two domain-
- Common domain
- Separate domain
Common domain talks about those rights which are enjoyed by all the citizens of our country
Separate domain talks about those rights which are enjoyed only by the minorities and those rights are reserved to protect the identities of the minorities
THE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY PART IV-
Part III of the Indian Constitution deals with the Fundamental Rights and whenever these rights get violates then one can approach the court for enforcing those rights under article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution but when we talk about part IV of the Indian Constitution the rights which are given under Part IV are non-justiciable. The rights provided under Part IV are the social and economic rights of the people. This rights known as the Directive Principle of State Policy and these rights are legally not binding upon state but it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles while making the law. The DPSP including following provisions regarding the welfare of Minorities-
- Article 38(1) It provides that the state shall make great efforts for promoting the welfare of the people and works in order to achieve justice that is social economic and political.
- Article 38(2)State shall strive towards minimizing the inequalities in the spheres of income status and opportunity among individuals and groups of people who are residing in a different area or engaged in different vocations.
COMMON DOMAIN- THE FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES PART IV(A)-
The fundamental duties apply to all the citizens including the minorities. Article 51A holds special relevance for minorities. Such as:
- To promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood among all Indian trance ending religious and linguistic regional or sectional diversities.
- It is the duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of composite culture.
COMMON DOMAIN- THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS PART III-
Article 14 Right to Equality before the law and Equal Protection of law.
The state shall not deny to any person equality before law equal protection of the laws within the territory of the state.
Article 15(1) Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on the ground of religion race caste sex and place of birth or any of them.
Article 15(2) Citizens can be prohibited from making such discrimination with regards to access to stop, public restaurants, hotels, and places of public entertainment or use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads, and places of public resort.
Article 15(4) Enables the state to make special provisions for the protection of the interest of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.
Article 16 (1)&(2) Right to equality of opportunity in matters relating to the employment or appointment to any office under the state and prohibitions against the discrimination on the 6 ground mentioned under article 15(1).
Article 16(4) The state holds Pak to make any provision for the reservation of appointment or post in favor of any backward class of citizens in the opinion of the state , is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
Article 17 Abolition of untouchability- The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.
Article 21- Right to life and personal liberty- No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedural established by law.
Article 25 (1) Freedom of conscience and free profession practice and propagation of religion-subject to public order morality and health.
Article 26 Freedom to manage religious affairs- Subject to public order morality and health.
- To establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes
- To manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
- To own and acquire movable and immovable property and,
- To administer such property in accordance with the law.
Article 27 – Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion- No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes for promotion of any particular religion.
Article 28- Freedom as to attendance at religious instructions or religious worship in certain educational institution wholly maintained, administered or recognized by the state.
Fundamental rights are essential for the intellectual moral and spiritual development of citizens of India. These rights are provided to the citizens for enjoying equality among all freedom of speech and expression, moment, trade &freedom of religion, etc. These rights are very essential for the all-round development of an individual because these rights remove all the discrimination and it aims to achieve equality among all.
Article 29- Protection of interest of minorities
- Any section of the citizen residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
- No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the street or receiving the eight out-of-state points on the ground only of religion, caste, race language or any of them.
Article 30- Rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institution
- All minorities, whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- This clause bars the state while grinding at educational institutions from discriminating against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a linguistic or a religious minority.
According to Article 350: Every person shall be entitled to submit a representation for the redress of any grievance to any officer or authority of the union or a state in any of the languages used in the union or a state in any of the languages used in the union or in the state.
Article 350 A provides Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stages
Article 350 B talks about Special officer for linguistic minorities.
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE 29&30-
In D.A.V. College, Jullunder v. State of Punjab case – It was held that Arya samajis Hindu constitute a religious minority in Punjab.
In S.K. Patrao v. State of Bihar case- The Supreme Court held that a minority cleaning privilege under article 32 should be a minority of a person residing in India. For anus not residing in India do not fall within the scope of Article 30. Resident in India and forming the well-defined religious or linguistic minorities fall under the protection of Article 30.
In S.P. Mittal v. Union of India case- The Supreme Court has stated:
“ In order to plan the benefit of Article 30(1), the community must show : (a) that is a religious or linguistic minority, (b) that the institution was established by it. Without satisfying these two conditions it can not claim the guaranteed right to administer it.”
In Yogendra Nath Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh case- The Government recognized and the institution as a minority institution. This order was challenged in the High Court through a writ petition. The police stopped looking into the antecedent history of the institution right from its inspection. The court concluded that the institution was not established as a minority institution coma and therefore it could not be granted minority status. Even now it was being managed by the minority community. Under Article 30(1) the requirements of the establishment and management have to be read conjunctively. the twin requirements have to be established and in the absence of one and institution cannot be granted minority status.
In Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College v. State of Gujarat case- The Supreme Court has pointed out that the spirit behind article 30 class 1 is the confines of the nation that the minorities, religious as well as linguistic, are not prohibited from establishing and administering educational institutions, of their choice for the purpose of giving their children the best general education to make them complete men and women of the country.
In Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India the recent landmark case where the Supreme Court held that admission solely through NEET for graduate and the postgraduate medical or dental course doesn’t violate any fundamental and religious rights of minorities. The court held that right of trade, business occupation, or religious rights don’t come in way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in the matter of admission. Regulation academies imposing reasonable restriction to ensure educational standards
To conclude it may be said that the struggle for secularization has to go along with the resistance to the majoritarian attempt to form equality between the majority and minority communism. It is a very true fact that the judiciary in India is working very hard for providing the proper chance to enjoy the rights of minorities not only under the interpretation of Article 29 and 30 but also aims to provide social and economic justice to the minority. After providing such rights, protection and opportunities the conditions of minorities are not so good so the main focus of the judiciary is to provide such an environment where whole rights guaranteed under the Constitution can be enjoyed by all the citizens without any intervention of another.
Stuti Gupta | Government New Law College, Indore