Right of Minorities: A Constitutional Perspective
Right of Minorities: A Constitutional Perspective
“The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.” -Lord Acton[i] In the Constitution of India, there is a special provision for minorities to secure their rights. The rights are implied for promoting the superior of political democracy. India could not become a Democratic country without the minority citizens.
India is a land of 1.38 billion people[ii]. People lived in India without any discrimination on race, caste, gender, creed and religious view. From this secularism, India is popular to the other nations. Right of minorities is enshrined under the fundamental rights of the Constitution of India. These rights are a basic human right of minorities inhabited in the territory of India.
Now, a question arises what is the concept of minorities? So according to the Random House Dictionary, the minority is a group differing, especially in races, religion or ethnic background from the plurality of the population, especially when the distinction is obvious and causes, or is likely to cause members to be treated unfairly.
Who are the Minorities of India?
According to census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is approximately 19.3% of the total population of the Indian.[iii] The Census 2011 data revealed that there were several minorities groups within the territory of India. Hinduism is proclaimed by the majority of the population in India. As esteems religious minorities at the national level, all persons who proclaims a religion other than Hinduism is considered as minorities. The Muslims are the largest religious minority followed by Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Jews and other tribal and non-tribal groups.
Right of Minorities under the Constitution of India:-
The term minority has not been appropriately distinguished anywhere in the Constitution of India. But they are eligible to enjoy some provisions mentioned in the Constitution.
Preamble- Indian preamble comprises the vast and prominent conception of the Constitution. The preamble of the Constitution of India guarantees for all of its people Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
Justice: Justice indicates the equal treatment of all citizens including the minorities without any social, political and economical difference.
Liberty: the preamble of the Indian Constitution protects the liberty of opinion, expression, notion, faith and worship of all the citizens including the minorities of India.
Equality: The preamble provides all citizens including minorities the equal opportunity and status.
Fraternity: Fraternity is a sense of unity. The fraternity enables a spirit of harmony amongst the citizens of India transcending linguistic, religious, regional diversities.
As per the preamble, there is zero discrimination against the minorities on any ground.
Fundamental Rights- The Fundamental Rights are ensured by the Constitution of India to all the people without any intolerance. They provide equality of individuals, the dignity of the individual, the wide public interest and harmony of the country.
Article 14, 15, 16, 19-21,25-27,29 and 30 deals with minority rights in India.
Article 14: Article 14 of the Indian Constitution deals with the equality before the law and equal protection of the law. Under Article 14 of the Constitution, every person is equal before the eyes of the law.
Article 15: Article 15 of the Indian Constitution furnishes that the nation shall not differentiate against any citizen on the grounds of race, caste, gender, religion and place of birth.
Article 16: Article 16 of the Indian Constitution upholds equal opportunities amongst all citizens including minorities in matters of public employment to any office situated within the territory of India.
Article 19: Article 19 of the Indian Constitution gives to all the citizens six rights to freedom. They are – Article 19(i) provides every citizen has a right to assert his opinions, belief freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picturing or in any other matter. Article 19(ii) provides every citizen has a right to assemble peacefully without carrying any arms. Article 19(iii) provides every citizen has the right to form unions. Article 19(iv) allows every citizen to move willingly throughout India. Article 19(v) allows every citizen to live in any part of India. Article 19(iv) provides the citizens to exercise any profession according to their choice.
Article 20: Article 20 of the Indian Constitution protects all the people including minorities against arbitrary and undue penalty to an accused person.
Article 21: Article 21 of the Indian Constitution affirms that no person shall be coerced of his life or private liberty except according to the method established by law.
Article 21A empowers free and compulsory education to all 6-14 years children in such a manner as the State may determine.
Article 22 protects persons encompassing minorities who are imprisoned.
Article 25: Article 25 provides all persons have entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely practice and produce religion.
Article 26: Article 26 gives every religious minority freedom to govern religious conspiracies.
Article 27: Article 27 provides every religious minority freedom from taxation for publicity of a religion.
Article 29: Article 29 especially protects the interest of minorities inhabited within the territory of India. It upholds that any section of the citizens inhabiting within India having a diverse language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to maintain the same.
Article 30: Article 30 deals with the rights of minorities to organize and allocate educational institutions. Under this provision, all religions or linguistic minorities have a right to establish and administer educational institutions of their preference. The compensation amount fixed by the State for the compulsory acquisition of any property of a minority educational institution shall not prohibit the right ensured to them. In consenting aid, the State shall not discriminate against any educational institution governed by a minority. The right of a minority to impart education to its children in its language.
Over the years, the Courts of India has consistently ruled in matters of the citizen’s right of minorities. The number of cases is discussed below:
In the case of Deccan Model Education Society V. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 Knt 207), the Karnataka High Court started that a minority institution need nook take prior approval of the government to be started. Recognition must be given to a minority institution if all the conditions have been fulfilled. Recognition cannot be rejected on the ground that because of the validity of one school in the locality there is no need for another school. Such a factor is unrelated so far as a minority institution is anxious.
In the case of State of Kerala V. Mother Provincial (AIR 1970 SC 2079), the Supreme Court observed that a society comprising of minority members may organize an educational institution. It matters not if a sole philanthropic individual with his means founds the institution at the large contributes the funds. The position of law is the same and the intent, in either case, must be to found an institution for the interests of the minority community by stimulating its religious precepts, ideology, culture and language.
Government Schemes for the Welfare of Minorities:-
The Ministry of Minority Affairs of India enforces several schemes across the nation for the welfare and development of the minorities. Presently, six centrally notified minority communities Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs are lived in India. Some schemes for the welfare of minorities are as follows:
• Naya Savera Scheme- this scheme is assisting minority candidates by way of special training for entitling in a competitive examination for recruitment posts under state and central government including public sector undertaking, banks, railways etc.
• Nai Udaan Scheme- This Scheme is to furnish economical support to the minority candidates who clear the preliminary examinations administered by the Union Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission and State Public Service Commission.
• Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram- It is a development scheme. The scheme established a socio-economic infrastructure as well as basic conveniences for enriching the quality of life of minorities.
• Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority Students- This scheme empowers fellowships in the form of economical subsidy to students belonging to minority Communities to continue higher studies at M.Phil and PhD level. The scheme encompasses all the Universities recognized by the University Grants Commission.[iv] • Seekho Aur Kamao– This scheme is a placement linked skill improvement programme for students belonging to minority communities.
• Nai Manzil – This scheme for formal school education & skilling of schools dropout students who are belonging to minority communities.
• Gharib Nawaz Employment Training- This scheme provides short-term job oriented skill improvement classes to youths who are belonging to minority communities.
• Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme: This Scheme provides scholarships to minority students up to class X, who have secured at least 50% marks in the last final examination and the annual earnings of their parent’s do not surpass rupees 1 Lakhs. 30% of the scholarships in this scheme are reserved for female students.
• Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme- This Scheme empowers scholarships to minority students from class XI who have secured at least 50% marks in the last final examination and the annual income of his or her parents does not surpass rupees 2 lakhs. 30% of the scholarships are reserved for female minority students.
In India, there are several schemes provided to minorities for the development and welfare of them.
India is a multi-lingual and a multi-religious country. The Constitution of India provides every citizen equal rights in social, political and economical matters. Minorities are the core structure of a demographic dividend. The government also provides schemes for development and welfare of minorities, still, communal disruptions between major and minor community anywhere tend to be a very susceptible issue. Indian minorities need to have patience before responding to any incident that might elicit communal conflict and major community also be aware of making any comments on minorities. At last, people of India have to remember that India is a secular country and the people should reside in the country with the spirit of brotherhood.
By Shreeparna Goswami
2nd Year, B.A.LL.B.
Shyambazar Law College.
[i] Minorities Rights Day 2020: Date, history, significance and quotes – Information Newshttps://www.indiatoday.in/information/story/minorities-rights-day-2020-date-history-significance-and-quotes-1750722-2020-12-18
[ii] India – total population 2015-2025 | Statistahttps://www.statista.com/statistics/263766/total-population-of-india/#:~:text=In%202020%2C%20the%20estimated%20total,to%20approximately%201.38%20billion%20people.&text=India%20currently%20has%20the%20second,ranking%20China%20within%20forty%20years.
[iv] SCHEMES OF MINISTRY OF MINORITY AFFAIRS – Legacy IAS Academyhttps://www.legacyias.com/schemes-of-ministry-of-minority-affairs/.