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Minority Status in India

  • IASbaba
  • May 11, 2022
  • 0
Indian Polity & Constitution
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In News: Supreme Court expressed displeasure over the Centre changing its stand on a plea that sought minority status for Hindus where their numbers have gone below other communities

What Happened?

  • In the earlier (March) affidavit, the Centre had sought to shift the onus of granting minority status on states, stating centre and state have concurrent powers to do so
  • However, in a fresh affidavit it said “the power is vested with the Centre to notify minorities”

Background

What is the case?

  • The plea contended that Hindus are in a ‘minority’ in six states and three Union Territories of India but was allegedly not able to avail themselves of the benefits of schemes meant for minorities.
  • Plea Showed as per 2011 census Hindus have become a minority in Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%), and Punjab (38.40%).
  • They should be given minority status in these states in accordance with the principle laid down by the SC in its 2002 TMA Pai Foundation and 2005 Bal Patil Case ruling.
  • The petition also argued that NCMEI (National Commission for Minority Education Institution) Act 2004 gives unbridled power to the Centre and is “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, and offending”.
  • Section 2(f) of NCMEI Act 2004 confers power to the Centre to identify and notify minority communities in India

TMA Pai Case:

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

Bal Patil Case:

  • In 2005, the SC in its judgement in ‘Bal Patil’ referred to the TMA Pai ruling.
  • The legal position clarifies that henceforth the unit for determining status of both linguistic and religious minorities would be ‘state’.

What was the Centre’s stand (earlier)?

  • Earlier centre stated that Parliament and State legislatures have concurrent powers to enact law to provide for the protection of minorities and their interests.
  • States can also “certify institutions as being minority institutions” as per the rules of the said state.
  • The Centre pointed out that Maharashtra had notified Jews as a minority community in 2016 and Karnataka had notified Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lamani, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati as minority languages.
  • But now in a fresh it contended that “the power is vested with the Centre to notify minorities”

How is a community notified as a minority?

  • Under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992 central government has the power to notify a community as a minority

Notified Minorities in India

  • Currently, only those communities notified under section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992, by the central government are regarded as minority.
  • In 1993, the first Statutory National Commission was set up and five religious communities viz. The Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities.
  • In 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.

National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  • In 1992, with the enactment of the NCM Act, 1992, the Minority Commission became a statutory body and was renamed as the NCM

Composition:

  • NCM consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and five members and all of them shall be from amongst the minority communities.
  • Total of 7 persons to be nominated by the Central Government should be from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity.
  • Tenure: Each Member holds office for a period of three years from the date of assumption of office.

Functions:

  • Evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States
  • Monitoring of the working of the safeguards for minorities provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the state legislatures
  • Making recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the central or state governments
  • Investigates matters of communal conflict and riots
  • Looking into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities

Constitutional Provisions for Minorities

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

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.

Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q.1) Right to privacy’ is protected under which Article of the Constitution of India? (2021)

  1. Article 15
  2. Article 19
  3. Article 21
  4. Article 29

Source: Indian Express

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