• Legis Scriptor

Minorities under constitution law with special emphasis on cultural and educational rights

Authored By- Amit Patel

Keywords- Constitution, script, caste, linguistic, cultural, educational, rights, minority.


In our constitution Articles, 29 and 30 are explicitly implied for the security of enthusiasm of minorities. Articles 29 says that "Any Section of the residents living in the region of India or any part thereof, having content or culture of its own, will reserve the option to moderate the equivalent." Article 30 recognizes the privilege of minorities dependent on religion or language to build up and control the instructive organization of their decision.


India is a dynamic constitutional democracy and the largest with an element of obliging pluralism in thought and language in order to safeguard its solidarity and variety. The importance of assorted diversity has various undertones, for example, geographical, linguistic, racial, and social. A linguistic and a religious minority community can conserve the essence of its language and culture through educational establishments yet "no resident will be denied induction into any institutional organization kept up by the state or getting help out of state assets on grounds just of religion, race, caste, language or any of them "[1]. Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University are the noticeable instances of minority educational institutions.

Who are considered minorities?

The Constitution of India utilizes the word 'minority' or its plural structure in certain Articles – 29 to 30 and 350A to 350B – however, doesn't define it anyplace. Article 29 has the word "minorities" in its heading yet talks about "any group or section of the citizens having a particular language, script or culture". Article 30 talks explicitly of two classifications of minorities –religious and linguistic. The other two Articles – 350A and 350B – identify with only linguistic minorities.

Generally, the word "minority" signifies a group or sections involving less than fifty percent of the population that is varying from others, particularly in the dominating area like in race, religion, culture, language,[2] and, so on.

Right of minorities under the Indian Constitution

Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution prohibit the state from making any discrimination on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them either generally i.e. every kind of state action in relation to citizens[3] or in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.[4]

Article 16 also has an empowering provision that allows the state for making provision for the reservation in the appointment of posts for “any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state"[5]. Eminently, while Article 15 talks about "any socially and educationally backward class of citizens". Whereas Article 16 discusses “any backward class of section” as per the opinion of the state which is not adequately represented.

Cultural and Educational rights covered under the scope of Article 29 and Article 30

The Right of citizens to monitor its language, script or culture [Art.29(1)]1–"Any area of the residents dwelling in the domain of India or any part thereof having a particular language, script or culture of its own will reserve the privilege to conserve it "[6]

The Right to establish an educational institution not to be victimized in the matter of State help on the ground that it is under the administration of a minority [Art.30(2)4]-"The state shall not, in allowing help to, an educational institution, discriminate any educational institution on the ground that it is under the administration of a minority, regardless of whether dependent on religion or language."

Cultural Right

Article 29(1) covers all the citizens regardless of the fact that whether they are in majority or minority, the main condition being that such section or group must have a distinct language, script or culture of its own. It is a right of the minorities to safeguard its language and culture through the means of educational institutions and cannot be subjected to reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public.

Right to Establish and Administer Educational Institution

It can be established under article 30 (1), but it is not necessary –

1. That the educational institution must seek to conserve the language, script, or culture of any specific minority community. It should necessarily be established by the minority community, it may impart religious or secular education wholly unconnected with language, script, and culture.

2. That admission into such an institution must be considered exclusively to members of that specific minority community who is establishing the institution, and not a single member of the majority community or other minority communities should have its advantage.

In the case of Azeez Basha v. Union of India[7], the Supreme Court held that if an educational institution is not been established by the minority community then they have no right to administer it. The term “established” and “administered” have to be read in coordination. The University Grants Commission Act prohibits the formulation of “University” established by the educational institution unless and until it is governed by law.

On account of Dr. Naresh Agarwal v. Association of India[8], where half of the seats to be filled based on admission test led by Aligarh Muslim University and the other half of the seats were held for Muslim Candidates. The candidates for this situation, who are Hindu by standing have been denied to participate in the test. The Allahabad High Court followed the judgment of Azeez Basha v. Association of India and held that AMU isn't a minority institution and struck down the amendment which was made in the favor of Aligarh Muslim University.


Our constitution aims at “Unity in Diversity”. The minority status is not only dependant on the basis of religious basis but also on the linguistic basis of minorities. These provisions are inserted in the Indian constitution so that minorities can also preserve and develop their distinct culture.

[1]India Constitution, Art. 29 cl.1 [2]A.M Patroni v. Kesavan, AIR 1965 Ker 75. [3]India Constitution, Art. 15. [4]India Constitution Art. 16. [5]Id. [6] Supra note 1. [7]Azeez Basha v. Union of India, 1968 AIR 662.

[8] Dr. Naresh Agarwal v. Association of India 2005 (4) AWC 3745, 2005 (4) ESC 2489 Reference