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Legopedia

Article 30 of Indian Constitution

Introduction

The Constitution of India provides certain fundamental rights and directive principles for the benefit of minorities in India. These range from Article 15, Article 16, Article 17, Article 25, and Article 30 to Article 330, Article 339, and Article 350. This article will concern itself with discussing Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 30 is entitled “Rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.” It states that “(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. (2) 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.”

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What is the meaning of the term ‘minority’ under Article 30 of the Constitution?

The word ‘minority’ has not been defined in the Indian Constitution. It is clear that the cultural attributes of religion and language have to be taken into consideration, but there is no numerical specification of this concept. However, an attempt was made to clear the meaning of the word in the case of T.M.A. Pai Foundation v State of Karnataka[1]. The Supreme Court laid down that to determine the status of a group and classify it as a minority or not, the geographical entity of the state will be taken into account. Since the reorganization of the States of India had been on linguistic lines, after independence, the determination of a minority group will also be through the State. Thus, religious and linguistic minorities, who have been put on par under Article 30, will be considered state wise.

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Conditions for Establishing and Administering an Institution

Article 30(1) gives all religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their own choice. The word ‘establish’ in this sense, means that the institution has to come into existence. It does not necessarily mean that the minority group has to construct the institution.

In the case of AM Patroni v Asst. Educational Officer[2], the facts were as follows. The school in contention was previously run by a private organization, and it was then taken over by the church. The church reorganized and managed it according to the rules and principles of the Roman Catholics. The Court held that this institution would come under Article 30(1) and is, therefore, a minority institution. Article 30(1) does not require that the institution should be established with the involvement of the whole minority community, nor does it speak about the requirement of prior permission to establish it. As long as the interests of that minority community are being facilitated, the institution will be one that is established by the minority and will come under Article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution.

On the other hand, administering an institution will wholly depend on the prerogative of that minority community. It can administer the institution as it thinks fit, and in accordance with its ideas of how the interest of the community in general, and the institution in particular, will be served best.

Scope of Government Control

Administration of an institution means an inevitable interaction among the management of the institution and the government. This could spark some situations of conflict between the two.  In the Pai case, the scope of government control over minority institutions was discussed in detail. The court said that the admission of students to unaided minority educational institutions where the scope for merit-based selection is nil, cannot be regulated by the State, except when it comes to providing the qualifications and minimum conditions of eligibility in the interest of academic standards.

In the case of aided minority institutions, the institution will not cease to be a minority institution the moment it receives aid. It still possesses the right to decide the admission of students belonging to a minority group, but would also be required to admit a reasonable amount of non-minority students. To decide this reasonable amount, the State government would step in, and contemplate the amount based on the type of institution, educational need, etc.

The relation between Article 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution

A crucial difference between Article 29 and 30 is that while Article 30 provides the right to minority groups to establish and administer their own educational institutions, Article 29 provides the indiscriminate right to admission in government-sponsored educational institutions to the citizens of India. In the case of St Xavier’s College v State of Gujarat[3], it was held that Article 29 and 30 could supplement each other as far as cultural rights of minorities are concerned, but they cannot be used interchangeably.

Conclusion

All in all, it can be said without a doubt that the existence of Article 30 is crucial for the development of minority groups. What is more is that being a Fundamental Right, the Parliament cannot take away this exclusive right by enacting an Act. This becomes very important when seen through the lens of the plethora of Amendments and enactments that the Government has done recently to curb free speech and create an opaque government – even in the wake of democracy.

Establishing minority educational institutions brings in community resources and commitment to further the cause of education. It should be encouraged, especially with the development of the present political atmosphere. Religious fundamentalist forces should be kept in check all the time, and their influence should be kept miles away from education.

[1] AIR 2003 SC 355

[2] AIR 1974 Ker 197

[3] AIR 1974 SC 1389

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by Varnika Agarwal

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