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Minority status of religious, and linguistic communities is State-dependent: SC

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Mechanism, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections of society, minority status etc

 

Source: The Hindu

Context:

  • Every person in India can be a minority in one State or the other. The minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”, the Supreme Court said.
  • The court was hearing a petition filed by a Mathura resident, Devkinandan Thakur, complaining that followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism, who are the real minorities in Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice because of non-identification of ‘minority’ at State level, thus jeopardizing their basic rights guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30.

 

Key Highlights:

  • Minorities can claim protection under Articles 29 and 30: The court indicated that a religious or linguistic community which is a minority in a particular State can inherently claim protection and the right to administer and run its own educational institutions under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution.
  • Hindus minorities in many states: He pointed out that Hindus were a mere 1% in Ladakh, 2.75% in Mizoram, 2.77% in Lakshadweep, 4% in Kashmir, 8.74% in Nagaland, 11.52% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.49% in Punjab and 41.29% in Manipur.
  • Power of the centre to notify minorities: Mr Datar challenged Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act 1992, which gave “unbridled power” to the Centre to notify minorities.

 

TMA Pai Case:

The SC had said that for the purposes of Article 30 which deals with the rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, religious and linguistic minorities have to be considered state-wise.

 

 

Constitutional Provisions for Minority:

Article 29:

  • It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.
  • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
  • However, the SC held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as the use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.

 

Article 30:

  • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).

 

Article 350-B:

The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India.

It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

 

Insta Links:

National Commission for Minorities(NCM)

 

Practice Questions:

Q. Do the government’s schemes for uplifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economies? (UPSC 2014)

 

Consider the following statements:

    1. Compared to Article 29, the protection under Article 30 is only confined to religious minorities
    2. The constitution provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities to be appointed by the President of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are not correct?

    1. 1 only
    2. 2 only
    3. Both 1 and 2
    4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (a)

Justification:

Refer to the table above