Educational Rights of the Minorities and Limitations on State Interference
By Rishabh Manchanda
In a democratic country like India which is based on majority rule, it becomes very important to promote and safeguard the interest of minorities so that people of a minority group can maintain their culture and can exercise their rights. It is an important matter upon which the state needs to emphasize more because people of minority groups are vulnerable to be persecuted by the hands of the majority.
In Indian History, the partition of the country was done during the time India got freedom and this partition of the country was based on the religion that is between Hindus and Muslims separating India and Pakistan forming two different countries.
There are many instances in which division or recreation of the various parts of the country are done on a linguistic basis such as state reorganisation 1967 from the state of Bombay, the creation of the state of Maharashtra and Gujarat then, the state of Punjab and Haryana and the state of Andhra and Telangana in recent years. So, here the division or reorganisation of states are based on language.
After partition, the Muslim population which came to India and people of other religions such as Christians, Jains, Parsis and others which settled in India are in the minority. So, the people who are in the minority based on a linguistic pattern or religious pattern have raised the fears when the constitution was drafted that their rights or culture may be mutilated by the majority rule.
Therefore, to deal with this issue constitution-makers provide constitutional guarantees to minorities in form of Article 29 and 30 of Indian Constitution so that they can exercise their rights, preserve their culture and live in this society without any sort of fear in the minds of minority people.
Provision of Cultural and Educational Rights of Minorities under Indian Constitution (Article 29 – 30)
Article 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution is an important fundamental right which deals with the cultural and educational rights of minorities.
Article 29(1) According to this section every citizen residing in India or any part of India has the right to protect his/her language, script or culture that is they are free to conserve their heritage, their culture, art and other practices. Whether they belong to any religion or linguistic choices, they have the right to conserve their Heritage and their socio-cultural rights.
It can be explained better from some of the judgements-
Usha Mehta v. State of Maharashtra, in this case, the state makes a policy to apply compulsory learning of Marathi in all the schools including minority schools, Here the court emphasised that state can ask learning of regional language, it can formulate the policies which aid in the growth of regional language. Therefore, in this case, the supreme court applied three language formula stating that article 29 and 30 do not contain negative right to exclude learning of regional language.
Jagdev Singh Sidhant v. Pratap Singh Daulta, the facts of the case was such that a candidate was alleged to have used corrupt practices by asking vote in the name of a language, religion etc which is prohibited under Section 123(3), Representation of People Act, 1951. It was held by the hon’ble supreme court that to agitate for the protection of language is right under article 29(1), so the act of the candidate asking vote in the name of conservation of language cannot be regarded as a corrupt practice under s.123(3) of Representation of people act.
Article 29 (2) According to this section none of the citizen will be denied admission in an educational institution which is maintained by state or which received aid out of state funds on the grounds of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, In this case, An order of government reserved seats in the state Medical and Engineering colleges on basis of brahmins, non-brahmins, backward classes etc in proportion. Petitioner could not get admission though he got more marks as all the seats were reserved on the basis of caste. The order of the government held invalid by the court as it was violative of Article 29(2).
Article 30(1) says all the religious or linguistic minorities have the right to set up and manage the educational institutions of their choice. So, this section provides the right to minorities to establish their educational institutions and the right to administer that institution.
St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi, in this case, the preference is given to Christian students by St. Stephen’s College was challenged. It was held by the court that minority cannot establish institution only for the benefit of their own community people.
In the case of Azeez Basha v. Union of India, it was held that Aligarh Muslim University was established by the statute and not by any minority institution, there is no applicability of article 30(1) or 30(2). therefore, the Muslim minority could not claim to administer it.
Article 30(2) says that state shall not differentiate between educational institutions in providing aid on the ground that the institution comes under the authority of a minority whether based on religion or language.
This clause does not influence provisions made in clause 1 which deals with the most essential right of the minority to establish an educational institution. It only directs the state for not discriminating against minority institutions.
Who is Minority?
The constitution does not define the term Minority. In layman language, the term minority can be defined as a section of people in the society which are comparatively lesser in number as to the majority group. So, a numerically smaller group in a defined region against the majority group can be considered as a minority. The basic idea used for the determination of minority is based on the quantum of the population in different states. However, supreme court time and again provided several instances in their judgements to recognize who all are included in the term minority.
In re, Kerala Education Bill, the Supreme Court has been applying the techniques of the arithmetic tabulation and defines minority as any community which is numerically less than 50 per cent of the State population.
In TMA Pai Foundation, an Eleven Judges Bench of the Supreme Court has gone through the past precedents and observed that language is the basis for the formation of the state. So, a linguistic minority is determined for each state and since both linguistic and religious minority are placed similarly. Therefore, minority status should also be determined with reference to the State and not the whole of India.
Limitations on State Interference
Supreme court time and again provided detailed guidelines protecting and giving directions to the minority institutions under article 29 and 30 what are their rights, how they can administer their educational institution and many other.
When we talk of administration of the educational institution, it is a long procedure right from the establishment of Institution to the running of an educational institution, making of appointment, making of admissions of students, all these things are a part of an educational institution and minority institution has autonomous right to exercise this.
The state is not allowed to interfere in the administration of the minority institution because these minority Institutions are the basic source to propagate the rights of the minorities to protect them and conserve the rights of the minorities.
The control of the state is limited over minority institution but some control should be there to prevent the misuse of this right. so, states shall not interfere in their rights unless there are compelling reasons.
Minority institution has to follow some instructions which are necessary to maintain the standards of education. But if Minority institution is charging exorbitant fees or If they are not following the directions of the educational boards or the University Grants Commission or the technical education commissions or bodies like AICTE, Medical Council of India. Here, the government can make rules and regulation in the national interest. Therefore, some Government control is necessary for the proper administration of these institutions.
In T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. the State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court held that minority institution is free to administer in their own way, they can adopt a suitable procedure to admit students, to set free structure, appoint staff and managing all the affairs of the institution subject to the condition that all the process must be fair and transparent and the power of the state is limited to interfere but it can provide directions and can frame reasonable regulation for proper functioning and maintaining educational standards.
Many minorities groups can be traced back from the ancient period of India, there were several minorities groups prevalent at that time also due to religion, linguistic, caste, colour and various other differences faced by the minorities.
Founding fathers also have the desire to solve this issue prevalent in India from the ancient times which has lots of ill effects on society and also harsh criticism faced by minorities groups in the society. So, to protect the interest of minorities from discrimination of society and to provide a sense of security, constitutional makers emphasise on the issue and provide constitutional provision to safeguard the minorities interest.
Despite the fact, the problem is still prevalent up to some extent in current time also so, it is the duty of the state to ensure the protection of minority by proper enforcement of rights available to minorities and keeping the balance between all the citizens.
The object of article 29 and 30 together is to give the minorities constitutionally guaranteed rights that they will be given full protection and they will be free to propagate their culture their art, their educational instructions.
As a state is a secular so it will not give any religion-based instructions in their Institutions but the minority institution established under article 30, they have been given the choice that in their institution subject to certain conditions they are free to propagate or impart instructions which are of their art and culture. So, minority institution can impart some instructions and some religious practices to conserve their culture.
- J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India (Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 55th edn., 2018).
- V.N. Shukla’s, Constitution of India (Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 13th edn., 2019).
- The Constitution of India.
 (2004) 6 SCC 264, 277-78.
 AIR 1965 SC 183.
 AIR 1951 SC 226.
 (1992) 1 SCC 558.
 AIR 1968 SC 662.
 AIR 1958 SC 956; 1959 SCR 995.
 AIR 2003 SC 355.
 AIR 2003 SC 355.
- Author: RISHABH MANCHANDA
- Intern at Lawportal
- Email: [email protected]
Author: RISHABH MANCHANDA,
Delhi Metropolitan Education affiliated to GGSIPU/ 2nd Year/ Law Student