We’ve all heard that gossiping aunt or living room uncle say that reservations are ruining our country and that the majority of people suffer when it comes to admission.However, one needs to stop and consider whether or not the government has a genuine tendency to protect minority communities’ educational and cultural rights?To answer that question, we must first investigate minority communities’ cultural and educational rights and the government’s and courts’ responses to judicial inquiries about them.These aspects will be examined in depth in this article.
Who is minority?
According to Article 30 of the Constitution, there are two categories of minority communities: religious and linguistic.However, despite the fact that it defines the categories of minority communities, the government does not provide an official definition of the term.
The various articles of our Constitution and government reports can provide some guidance.Article 29(1) says that anyone with “a distinct language, script, or culture of its own” has the right to preserve it, protecting the rights of minority communities.
We may be able to deduce from the text’s language that minority communities are those with distinct languages, scripts, or cultures.However, in later cases like Bal Patil v. Union of India and the Islamic Academy of Education v. State of Karnataka, we see that courts use other factors, like a community’s economic well-being, to determine whether or not a community is a minority.
According to Section 2(c) of the Minorities Act, five religions are recognized as religious minority communities: Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (NCMA).
An examination of Article 29 of the Indian Constitution
The Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution guarantee the fundamental rights of Indian citizens.In essence, the Indian Constitution enshrined six fundamental rights.The cultural and educational rights that are granted to an Indian citizen are discussed in Article 29 and Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.The primary objective of Article 29 of the Indian Constitution is to safeguard the culture of India’s minority groups.The country of India is very diverse, which is both a strength and a weakness.As a result, Article 29 of the Constitution is used because of India’s complexity.The Constitution goes about as an underwriter of these privileges to the minority gatherings of India.This contributes to the preservation of all India’s marginalized groups.Additionally, the people are motivated to safeguard, spread, and preserve their culture.
On April 26 of the year 1975, Article 29 was enacted.Article 29 is included in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms’ Chapter 3 titled “Fundamental Rights.”
Only Indian citizens who live on Indian soil are eligible to exercise this right.Every Indian citizen has the right, under Article 29 of the Constitution, to preserve their culture and the avenues associated with it due to the country’s vast cultural diversity.
Hindus make up the majority of the population in India, but they are in the minority in some states.If we consider India as a whole, Christians, Muslims, and othersare minorities, but the number of Hindus in minority states is smaller.As a result, Article 29 of the Indian Constitution supports minority groups whenever they are concerned about losing their cultural identity.
The Indian Constitution’s Article 29(1) aims to safeguard a group’s rights.Because of their cultural background, the minority groups have an absolute right to this.Any reasonable restrictions for the benefit of the general public cannot apply to this provision.
The Indian Constitution’s Article 29(2) goal is to safeguard an individual’s rights.The rights of each individual citizen (unrelated to the community to which the citizen belongs) are protected by provisions in the Article.As a result, the protection of religious and linguistic minorities is guaranteed by Article 29 as a whole.
According to India’s Constitution, there are only two kinds of minorities: religious and linguistic.Caste, representation, and other minorities are not mentioned in this Article of the Constitution.According to the Supreme Court, the Article’s application extends beyond just minorities.The phrase “section of citizens” in the Article implies that it includes both majorities and minorities.
In Ravneet Kaur v. Christian Medical College (1997), the Court noted that the state was encouraging discrimination in the aided institutions.The Court ruled that students’ religion, caste, or race cannot be used as grounds for discrimination in private schools and colleges that received government funding.
In the 1955 case of DP Joshi v. State of Madhya Bharat, the Court noted that there is still a form of discrimination that does not affect individuals: “place of residence.”Students are admitted to state universities based on their residence qualification.In another case, Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that it would be preferable not to provide postgraduate course admission reservations based on residence or institutional preference.
- P. Mittal v. Union of India, AIR 1983 SC 1
Facts In this case, Sri Aurobindo was involved in political work in addition to being an excellent academic and administrator.Later, he moved to Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, and gave up everything for a life of meditation.He met Madam M. Alfassa, who later became known as Mother and became his disciple, there.The Sri Aurobindo Society was later established by his followers and the Mother to spread and practice Sri Aurobindo’s ideals and beliefs.
The Mother, the society’s founding president, established Auroville, a township where people could come to participate in a variety of activities.Later, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to pay for things that would help Auroville grow.
Numerous issues, including poor project management and misappropriation of funds, prevented the townships from functioning and expanding after the mother’s death.As a result, taking into account Auroville’s international character as a result of the agreement it had with UNESCO, the government of Tamil Nadu took management into their own hands and filed a presidential ordinance that would eventually become The Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1980.
The Act’s constitutionality was questioned on four grounds because the government took control of a “religious” business.The fact that it went against Articles 29 and 30 was one of the justifications.
Question: Is the Act in violation of Articles 29 and 30?
Decision- The bench concluded that the aforementioned Act complies with Articles 29 and 30.The court decided that it did not violate Article 29 because it did not restrict their right to preserve their own language, script, or culture or prevent any citizen from doing so.
In addition, one must demonstrate that they are a linguistic or religious minority and that they founded the institution in question in order to qualify for Article 30 protection.They were not entitled to protection under these articles because Auroville was founded on the ideology of Sri Aurobindo and was not a religious community.
- State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan (1951)
The facts of the case – In the case of State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, the people of Madras challenged the order that the Madras government issued regarding admissions.Students seeking admission to state engineering and medical schools were covered by the order.
The case’s issues It was determined that the admissions order was solely based on caste or religion.The question was whether or not the provisions violated the citizens’ rights guaranteed by Articles 29(2) and 15(4) of the Indian Constitution.
Judgment of the Court The order was ruled invalid and in violation of India’s Constitution’s Article 29(2).As a direct result of this, the first amendment to Article 15(4) of the Indian Constitution granted the State authority to enact special regulations with the purpose of bringing any socially and educationally backward classes of Indian citizens into the mainstream.Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) were also covered.
- In the 1954 case State of Bombay v. Bombay Educational Society, the facts of the case were found to have been passed by the Bombay government with the intention of preventing students whose mother tongue was not English from being admitted.It was required of the English-speaking schools that received government funding.
The case’s issues The order denied admissions solely on the basis of the students’ mother tongue language.Anglo-Indians were the target of the order, which required them to admit only English-speaking students.They were warned that the government’s aid would be forfeited if they accepted additional students who do not speak English and do not fit the criteria established by the government.
Judgment of the Court The Court said that minority institutions can admit students of their choice even if they get funding from the government.Institutional funding does not grant the government the authority to violate the rights of minorities.
- Facts from the case of DAV College, Punjab v. State of Punjab (1971): In the case of DAV College, Punjab v. State of Punjab, the university issued a notice stating that Punjabi would be the language of instruction in all affiliated institutes.Minorities should have the right to choose the medium of instruction, according to a petition filed against the university.
The case’s issues The order violated the rights of people who didn’t know Punjabi.The question at hand was whether or not the notice was in violation of Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution.
Judgment of the Court The Court also agreed with the petitioners’ arguments and allowed the affiliated schools to teach in the languages they were most comfortable with.
- Jallikattu’s Case
In the scandalous instance of the Jallikattu celebration, the extremely conventional round of bull-restraining grabbed the eye of the ideological groups in the country.In the year 2021, the Pongal festival became a priority for the government in Tamil Nadu.It has been a custom for more than two thousand years.The sport of jallikattu is played to honor the bull owners who raise them for mating purposes.The sport involves trying to tame a bull for a prize, and if they fail, the bull’s owner receives a prize. It is a violent sport.In Tamil Nadu’s Madurai, Theni, Pudukkottai, Dindigul, and Tiruchirappalli districts, this sport is most well-known.The Jallikattu belt is the most well-known name for these districts.The festival is celebrated in January, when the Tamil harvest is taking place.
In 2011, bulls were added to the list of animals that could not be trained or shown.The Supreme Court outlawed bull-taming sports in 2014 as a direct result.However, the Jallikattu bull festival has been made legal by the government at the moment.In 2018, the case was referred to the Supreme Court, where it is currently pending and the final decision has not yet been made.The primary disagreement that needs to be resolved is whether or not the Tamil Nadu tradition should be protected as a cultural right, which is a fundamental right.Another is whether or not Article 29(1) of the Indian Constitution denies animals their rights.
Rights of minorities
A number of rights have been established to protect the rights of minority communities.Article 29 says that everyone in India has the right to keep their own language, script, or culture, and that no state educational institution or institution receiving state aid may discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, caste, or other characteristics.Article 30 prohibits discrimination against minority communities and guarantees their access to educational facilities.
Numerous individuals have raised the argument that special provisions for minority communities and the reservation are “cushioning.”However, Khanna J. stated that such provisions are necessary so that “none might have the feeling that any section of the population consisted of first-class citizens and the other of second-class citizens” in the case of The Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College v. State of Gujarat & Anr.Additionally, he stated that the majority of the Constitution’s Fundamental Rights safeguard minority rights at the same time that they safeguard majority rights.
In the TMA Pai case, the judge took into account the advisory opinion of the Permanent Court of International Justice in the case of Minority Schools in Albania. The advisory opinion stated that there is a need for provisions that assist minority groups in maintaining the distinctiveness of their distinct culture, script, and religion.”The object of protection is to enable minority communities to preserve the characteristics that distinguish them from the minority,” Khana J. stated.
In the case of the Kerala Education Bill, Hidayatullah C.J. stated that while Article 30(1) may provide general protection over various languages and scripts, it is also appropriate to establish educational questions of choice in regards to institutions managed by minority communities.Therefore, this Act is unaffected if the primary purpose of the institution is not to safeguard minority culture; it also applies to institutions that are run by minority communities and accept other students.
The difference between Article 29(2) and Article 15(1)
Article 29(2) and Article 15(1) are very similar because they both prevent discrimination based on caste, race, gender, and other factors, and they are sometimes interpreted as being incompatible with one another.But there is a significant difference.Article 29 provides specific restitution for individuals who have been discriminated against at the time of entry or admission by state-run educational institutions, whereas Article 15 provides a broader prohibition against discrimination based on caste, race, gender, and other factors.
Why did the founders of the Constitution take additional measures to stop educational institutions from discriminating?A community’s growth and development depend on its education.A person is prepared to work in the public sector and find employment when they have received a quality education.The community will be culturally but economically dominated without education tools.Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for any minority community to have access to education and protection from discrimination.
Right of Minorities to Establish and Manage Educational Institutions
In accordance with Article 30, the Constitution grants minority communities the right to establish and manage educational institutions, as well as to safeguard themselves from government aid discrimination.Any citizen has the right to preserve their own unique language, script, or culture under Article 29(1).Even though they are protected by Article 29(2), it is more for all citizens than for minority groups.
The question of whether minority communities have the right to manage these institutions autonomously has been one of the most contentious issues in judicial history.The well-known T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka case, which featured a massive 11-judge bench, was the result of such inquiries.Currently, it is generally agreed that governments are permitted to regulate minority institutions so long as the regulation does not harm the institution’s character or undermine academic excellence.The right to property was made a Fundamental Right under Article 19 of the Constitution by the Constitutional (44th Amendment) Act of 1978.However, it made sure that “the right of minority communities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice would not be affected by the removal of property from the list of Fundamental Rights.”
Relationship between Articles 29(1) and 30(1) Article 29(1) states that communities with distinct languages, cultures, and scripts are protected in their rights.
When it comes to establishing and running educational establishments, minority rights are safeguarded by Article 30(1).
As a result, minority rights to establish and run their own educational institutions are facilitated by both Acts.Only 29(1) attempts to define minority communities, which is the only difference.Because the articles are almost identical, many people might think that you can only apply for protection under one.However, it was stated in St. Xaviers College v. the State of Gujarat that Article 29(1) and 30(1) did not contradict one another.
- Xaviers College v. the State of Gujarat, AIR 1974 SC 1389
Facts St. Xaviers College, a religious denomination affiliated under the Gujarat University Act, 1949, provided education to students of other religions and creeds in addition to Christians. This case demonstrates the authority of the government to regulate minority-run educational institutions.They had challenged the Gujarat University Act of 1972’s sections 35-A, 40-A, 41-A, 51-A, and 52-A, which dealt with the appointment of minority students and teachers.They claimed that the Act interfered with the universities’ autonomy.
Parties argue that minority communities have the right to establish and run their own institutions, and that Article 30 (1) of the Constitution protects a citizen’s right to preserve their own language, script, or culture.
Additionally, the government should not discriminate against any institution with minority management, as stated in Article 30(2).
They had the right to affiliation—the ability to operate independently while also having a formal collaborative agreement with the state—under Article 32. Not only did they have the right to establish and run institutes of their choice, but they also had the right to affiliation.
The opposition claimed that protection under Articles 29 and 30 cannot be invoked simultaneously because they were mutually exclusive.Additionally, they stated that affiliation was not a Fundamental Right and that, in order for a minority institution to be affiliated, they needed to comply with the provision.Another argument was that the Act should not be overturned unless it was a manifest violation of minority rights under Article 30(1).They pleaded that the court not pursue the disputed sections until statutes and ordinances are enacted.
Question: Do Articles 29 and 30 contradict each other?
Is group membership a fundamental right?
Does the Act’s sections 35-A, 40-A, 41-A, 51-A, and 52-A interfere with the Fundamental Right of the Institute?
Decision It was determined that Articles 29 and 30 did not conflict.
Sections 35-A, 40, 41, 51-A, and 52-A of the Act would not apply to minority institutions because they interfere with their Fundamental Right to establish and manage educational institutions of their choice. Although affiliation is not a Fundamental Right, it is necessary for the meaningful management and establishment of such institutions.
According to Palekar, J. and Ray, C.J., it would be unfair to restrict their rights to institutions that administer language, script, and culture.The Act would then no longer be needed.It is also incorrect to believe that Articles 29 and 30 contradict one another because, while Article 29 applies to all citizens, Article 30 was enacted to protect minority communities’ rights.As a result, Article 30 needs to be viewed as an addition to Article 29.
According to Jaganmohan Reddy, J., affiliation is not a Fundamental Right, but the state cannot use it to force an institution to follow specific rules.”Establish their institutions, lay down their own syllabi, provide instructions in the subjects of their choice, conduct examinations and award degrees or diplomas, seek recognition for their degrees and diplomas, and ask for aid where aid is given to other educational institutions,” the institution has the right to do so.The state can only discriminate based on the institution’s excellence.
The majority of the bench agreed that minority-run institutions had the right to operate without government interference in the various disputed sections of the Act.
- Re Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956
Facts In this case, the President approached the Supreme Court regarding the Kerala Education Act of 1958 in accordance with Article 143 of the Constitution.The President questioned Sub-Clause (5) of Clause 3, which stated that “any new school or any higher class opened in any private school that did not live up to the standards of government regulation would not be recognized by the Government.” This was one of many of the questions that he asked.
Since minority communities had the right to manage and establish their own institutions, the President inquired as to whether delegating such authority to the government would be in violation of Article 30.
Questions Aside from the fact that minority communities were entitled to administer, do they also have the right to maladminister?
It was decided that minority groups did not have the right to abuse government.”Reasonable regulations may certainly be imposed by the state as a condition for aid or even for recognition,” Das, C.J., stated.
It also stated that, despite the fact that opening educational institutions was necessary for minority communities to exercise their right under Article 30, all educational institutions are subject to Article 29(2), which stipulates that no citizens of state or state-aided institutions may be subjected to discrimination at the time of admission based on race, sex, creed, or any other factor.
Importance The court’s opinion on whether educational institutions should be regulated by the government and Article 29(2) have served as persuasive precedent in important cases.T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka is one example.
- Facts in the case of Sidhrajbhai v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1963 SC 540 The petitioners (Sidhrajbhai) are members of a society that has established numerous educational establishments, including a teacher training school.The Bombay government ordered that the government would select candidates for 80% of teaching positions in non-government training schools.Additionally, the government instructed the training school principal not to admit private students greater than 20% of the class without the approval of the educational inspector.
The government threatened them with disciplinary action after the principal stated that he was unable to follow instructions.The society took the matter all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming that this order was in violation of several of their Fundamental Rights, including Article 30.
Concerned: Were the government’s orders in violation of Article 30?
Decision Article 30 was broken by the orders.Contrary to Article 19, Article 30 is an absolute right that cannot be subjected to “reasonable restrictions.”It was stated that the protection of minority communities and their right to run their own educational institutions are the purposes of this right.It will only be an illusion and have no effect if it is reduced in the name of reasonable restrictions.The Kerala Education Bill case was cited because the court ruled that the state can only impose regulations on educational institutions if they do not harm the “character of the minority institution.”Therefore, the court will not consider these legislative restrictions unless they assist the institution in achieving educational excellence while preserving its minority status.
Right of recognition or affiliation, not a Fundamental Right When minority communities’ right to establish and manage educational institutions is considered a Fundamental Right, one might wonder whether affiliation or recognition is also a Fundamental Right.At the end of the day, having some kind of state recognition or affiliation is essential for any institution to achieve sufficient excellence.
In the case of Sidhraj Bhai v. State of Gujarat, this very issue was brought up.The court denied that affiliation was a Fundamental Right, despite their recognition of its significance.In subsequent cases such as T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka and P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, it was determined that the government is permitted to establish guidelines that institutions must adhere to in order to obtain affiliation.The pursuit of educational excellence must be the goal of these regulations.
- In the cases of T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. the State of Karnataka and P.A. Inamdar v. the State of Maharashtra, the general consensus of courts is that although unaided minority institutions have autonomy over management, these institutions must ensure that they adhere to Article 29(2) during admission—majority community students and employers should be admitted as well.
Admissions to aided minority educational establishments The government has the authority to regulate the management of such establishments, including the fee structure, student admission, and teacher employment.They will have predetermined quotas based on demand.Right of non-minorities to run educational institutions The two rights are the right to practice (subject to restrictions in Art. 19(6)) and the right of all religious denominations to run educational institutions (Article 26).T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. the State of Karnataka, AIR 2003 SC 355 Facts In this case, the St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi case was initially reviewed by a five-judge bench, then moved to a six-judge bench, and finally to a massive eleven-judge bench to determine the status of minority rights.
Issue Raised Kirpal, CJI, posed five primary questions, the following of which are pertinent to the article: “Is there a Fundamental Right to Set Up Educational Institutions and If So, Under Which Provision?”
How much control is there over private universities?
What should be the unit for determining whether a religious minority exists in relation to Article 30?
“How much regulation is possible for the rights of aided private minority institutions?”
Decision Article 19(1)(g) (the right to a profession subject to Article 19(6) restrictions) and Article 26 (the right of “all citizens and religious denominations to establish and maintain educational institutions”) are the two rights that apply to non-minority groups.The Constitution provides Article 29(1) and Article 30(1) for minority communities.
Through this article, we have attempted to comprehend not only who the government considers to be minorities but also the logic that the government has used to modify the reservation policies that are currently in place for minority colleges.Essential questions like “who can be considered a minority” and “whether affiliation is a Fundamental Right” have been subjected to a time-consuming process, as we have witnessed.Our judiciary has clearly accomplished a lot in the area of cultural and educational minority rights, but it appears that we still have a long way to go.
Article by Roli Nayan