National Minority Day:Every year on 18th of December the National Minority Day is celebrated to cherish the religious freedom and rights of minorities enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Minority rights are the rights provided to the people of minority classes by the government. In India, the Indian Constitution and Religious Law, and Human Rights law protect the rights and freedom of the minority people. The preamble states India is a secular state. In reality, the minority religious people face many issues in establishing the religious educational institution and Public Preaching of religionism. Many Political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi believed the civilization of a country depends on the treatment of minority people.
Our Constitution gives assurance to minority people for protecting their rights and freedom. The main function of the democratic structure is the welfare of the people without any discrimination. The Directive Principles of State Policy speaks about the social and educational system of backward classes. The Legal aspect, constitutional aspect of minority rights are discussed below.
Legal Aspect of Minority Rights
- To promote harmony and brotherhood without any discrimination.
- Any person can redress their grievances to any officer or authority of the state or central government.
- To provide the Primary right to speak in the mother tongue.
- The special officer rights for Linguistic minorities.
- Judicial review of pre and post-constitutional laws.
- To protect the rights of tribal people.
- Right to establish and administer a religious educational institution.
- Right to fix the amount of acquisition of properties of the institution.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the following rights to minority people.
- Eradicating Racial discrimination and treating everyone equally before the law.
- Equal opportunity should be given to all. Eg: Audi-Alterum Partum.
- Personal liberty to choose their life and preferences.
- Treating everyone with safe and securely in society.
- Right to follow any religion with their conscience.
- The same salary for the same job.
Some other rights like establishing the religious educational institution, Right to vote, Right to nominate in the election; Allocation of reservation category for various backward classes in the field of education and employment; Providing government aids to the backward classes. More Religious Act had enacted for the welfare of the minority people.
Constitutional Freedom of Religion
The religious minority seems to be less. In reality, they are a large-scale community. In India, the Hindus are the majority. This pressurizes the government to create various reforms to protect the rights of the minority religions. Section 2 (c) of the minorities act declares the following communities as minority communities. They are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and Parsis. Apart from these religious communities, there are many linguistic communities in India. The linguistic communities protect their mother tongue and the cultural activities of their region.
According to the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic minorities report. The main factor that leads to socio-economic backwardness is the attachment and fidelity towards the regional languages. It has been noticed that many outbreaks of violence and crimes happened against the minorities. On 25th November 2020, the law banning forcible religious conversion by marriage had approved. The minority people consider the Ban is violating their fundamental right to follow any religion. The law states that any person who converts religion forcibly by employing marriage is an offense. the guilty will be imprisoned for a term not less than 10 years.
What are the Minority Rights in India?
The Indian Constitution enumerates various provisions which guarantee the rights of minorities in India. Those provisions are as follows:
- Article 15: Discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, place of birth, race or sex is prohibited.
- Article 16 provides equal opportunity in public employment matters.
- Article 17 abolishes Untouchability.
- Article 25 gives the freedom to practice and propagate religion of one’s choice.
- Article 26 allows establishment of religion institutions.
- Article 27 prohibits compulsion on persons to pay taxes, which will be further used for promoting or propagating any particular religion.
- Article 28 prohibits religious instructions in State funded educational institutions.
- Article 29 protects the interests of the minorities.
- Article 30 gives the rights to Minority communities to establish educational institutions.
- In Re: The Kerala Education Bill (1958)
In this case, the Apex Court interpreted the meaning of the word “minority”. It observed that any “community which is below 50% of the total population” of a defined area shall be termed as “minority”.
- T.M.A Pai Foundation &Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka (2002)
In this case, the Supreme Court observed that for the purpose of deciding whether a community is a minority or not, the unit shall be state. In other words, a community is to considered as a “minority” on the basis of the population of a particular state.
Article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution empowers both religious and linguistic minorities the right of establishing and administering educational institutions of their choice. The court held the “right to administer” is not absolute and is subject to some restrictions. The Bench further observed that aided minority institutions shall provide admissions to certain number of non-minority students to maintain a balance between Article 30(1) and Article 29(2) i.e. minorities’ right and citizen’s rights against discrimination.
India is a free and democratic country. Minorities should not feel discriminated against or oppressed by the majority communities. It is the duty of the Indian Constitution to protect the rights of Minority communities and ensure their development. Indian Judiciary has contributed immensely in protecting the rights of the Minorities. Judiciary has given meaningful interpretations to Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution. It has played a vital role in fulfilling the objectives given in the Preamble by providing social and economic justice to the minority communities.
This Article is written by:
Yashi Kansal and Anu Vaishale