In News: Supreme Court says that Minority status of religious, linguistic communities is State-dependent.
- It held that every person in India can be a minority in one State or the other.
- Minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”.
- It says a religious or linguistic community which is a minority in a particular State can claim protection and right to run own educational institutions under Articles 29 and 30.
- The court was hearing a petition filed by a Mathura resident, complaining that followers of Judaism, Bahaism and Hinduism, who are the real minorities in some states cannot establish and administer educational institutions of their choice because of non-identification of ‘minority’ at State level, thus jeopardising their basic rights guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30.
- The petition has argued that the recognition of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis nationally by the Centre as ‘minorities’ ignored the fact that religious communities like Hindus were “socially, economically, politically non-dominant and numerically inferior” in several States.
- It 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.
- The petition also challenged Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act 1992, which gave “unbridled power” to the Centre to notify minorities in defiance of the Supreme Court’s 11-judge Bench judgment in T.M.A Pai case
Judgements related to determination on minority status
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’.
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.
Constitutional Provisions for Minorities
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
Source: The Hindu