The Supreme Court ruled in the TMA Pai Foundation case that the ‘State’ will be the unit of determination for religious and linguistic minorities. The state government was also given the authority to control minority educational establishments. At the national level, these minorities have a sizable number in numerous states. In Lakshadweep (96.58 percent) and Kashmir, for example, Muslims form the majority (96 percent ). Nagaland (88.10 percent), Mizoram (87.16 percent), and Meghalaya (74.59 percent ) are Christian-majority states
Definition of minority
- The expression “minorities” appears in some Articles of the Constitution, but is not defined anywhere.
Minorities under administrative purposes
- Currently, only those communities notified under section 2(c) of the National Minorities Commission Act, 1992, by the central government are regarded as minority.
- Minorities notified by the Government of India are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis, Jains
- Article 29, which deals with the “Protection of interests of minorities”, says that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”, and that “no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”.
- Article 30 deals with the “right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions”. It says that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. It says that “in making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority…, the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause”, and that “the state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language”.
- Article 350(A) says there shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by the President. “It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned”.
- The National Commission for Minority Education Institutions (NCMEI) Act of 2004 : It grants minority status to educational institutions based on the government’s notification of six religious communities under the NCMEI Act of 2004: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis), and Jains.
The Supreme Court has taken up take up a petition seeking identification of minorities at the state level and granting minority status to Hindus in states and union territories where their numbers have gone below other communities.
How to structure
- Give an intro about the latest Supreme Court judgment regarding the issue
- Give the definition of minority as per the latest judgment
- Mention the constitutional provisions regarding minorities