Cultural and Educational Rights

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Article 29Protection of interests of minorities
(1) 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.
(2) 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 30Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions
(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
1[(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), 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.]
(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.

Explanation:

Article 29 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. Further, 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, or language.

The first provision protects the right of a group while the second provision guarantees the right of a citizen as an individual irrespective of the community to which he belongs.

Article 29 grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities. However, the Supreme Court held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as it is commonly assumed to be. This is because of the use of words ‘section of citizens’ in the Article that include minorities as well as majority.

The Supreme Court also held that the right to conserve the language includes the right to agitate for the protection of the language. Hence, the political speeches or promises made for the conservation of the language of a section of the citizens does not amount to corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Article 30 grants the following rights to minorities, whether religious or linguistic:

(a) All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

(b) The compensation amount fixed by the State for the compulsory acquisition of any property of a minority educational institution shall not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed to them. This provision was added by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 to protect the right of minorities in this regard. The Act deleted the right to property as a Fundamental Right (Article 31).

(c) In granting aid, the State shall not discriminate against any educational institution managed by a minority.

Thus, 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). However, the term ‘minority’ has not been defined anywhere in the Constitution.

The right under Article 30 also includes the right of a minority to impart education to its children in its own language.

Minority educational institutions are of three types:

(a) institutions that seek recognition as well as aid from the State;

(b) institutions that seek only recognition from the State and not aid; and

(c) institutions that neither seek recognition nor aid from the State.

The institutions of first and second type are subject to the regulatory power of the state with regard to syllabus prescription, academic standards, discipline, sanitation, employment of teaching staff and so on.

The institutions of third type are free to administer their affairs but subject to operation of general laws like contract law, labour law, industrial law, tax law, economic regulations, and so on.

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