Accepting diversities in a country is the pillar of a great civilization. All over the world, minority rights are now being given greater visibility and relevance. Minority groups are the people who are secluded in society just because the majority groups are more in number than then and are in a dominant position that the minority groups. The minority groups often feel suppressed due to these reasons. The makers of the constitution have provided for various safeguards for the minorities in the constitution during the making of it. The constitution provides special provisions for the upliftment of minorities and provides safeguards for them. The constitution tries to prevent discrimination and seeks to secure that every individual is treated on an equal basis. All steps and provisions to ensure promotion of minority groups have been taken by the constitution makers and yet there are certain questions remaining regarding the struggle between the majority and minority which still exists.
Constitutional Provisions Safeguarding Rights of the Minorities
Article 15 (1) of the Constitution prohibits the state from discrimination against any Indian citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them. This provision of the constitution was bought in order to compensate the minorities for any injustice that is done towards them as they are often placed in a disadvantaged position.
Right to Freedom of Religion- Article 25 COI
The right to freedom of conscience along with the right to freely practice, profess and propagate any religion is provided by this article to the citizens of India. An individual right to entertain beliefs and doctrines concerning issue elated him which are regarded to be conducive to his spirituality is signified by the freedom of conscience. Here, the right to freedom of religion is the right to declare one’s faith openly and freely.
Freedom to manage religious affairs- Article 26
The supreme court in the case of Brahmachari Siddeshwar on A-26(a) as the basis for an educational right ruled that religious orders could set up institutions for charitable purposes subject to limitation as under the A-26(a). But the court was silent as to whether the article provided protection to educational institutions which are established and maintained by a certain religious denomination. Therefore, the right to establish and maintain religious and educational institutions is given for those religious denominations or sections thereof, which do not fall under special categories carved out in Article 29(1) and Article 30(1).
Freedom as To Payment of Taxes for Promotion of Any Particular Religion- Article 27
Article 27 explains that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the income of which is specifically allocated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religious denomination or religion.
It was also held in the case of K. Raghunath v. State, the religious and educational places which are damaged during communal riots were upheld for notwithstanding that the damaged sites along with the expenditure from the State fund for the reconstruction belonged to any one religion. The court upheld the acquisition of an area for the construction of a temple.
Cultural and Educational Rights- Article 29(1)
Under A-29(1) the rights of any Indian citizen having a distinct language, culture, or a script of their own to conserve the same allows them to maintain and establish an educational institution for this objective. A basis and an opportunity for education are also provided for the children under Article 30(1) which gives them the right of linguistic and religious minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Right to Education- Article 21A
It is globally agreed upon that education empowers individuals, helps in their complete development, helps in overcoming exploitations of any kind, and strengthens the respect of human rights. The right to education has a relation with other positive liberties and rights of people. The right to education in the Indian constitution flows directly from the right to life. The right to life and dignity of a person cannot be obtained by a person completely if he is denied the right to education. It was also observed in the case of J.P Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh that a citizen can even call upon the state to provide him/ her with educational facilities.
Are the Rights of Minorities Protected Sufficiently?
The issue of the protection of minorities very often comes up even in discussion in the international forums. This is for the reason that we can witness continuous violence and crimes against minority groups like Muslims, Women, Dalits, etc. it was held in these conferences that the minority rights are in a virtual collapse. In the case of Ram Narayan Agarwal v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court has stated that the majority of detention and arrests are illegal. Every year about 1.8 million people of the minority communities are being tortured in police custody. This question’s the credibility of rule of law and justice in the country. The Indian Constitution does not provide specific provision that provides protection for minorities and the police and judiciary are also not properly sensitized on this issue.
It can be concluded from the above provisions of the constitution that the minority rights in India post- independence have been safeguarded, and have been encouraged by the framers of Indian Constitution but there needs to be little more care that needs to be taken by the present administrators, legislators and judiciary. It is evident from above that Indian constitution provides certain rights to the minorities residing all over India although minorities are those who are less in number. Although the constitution doesn’t define minorities anywhere, it provides various opportunities needed for their survival in form of fundamental rights. Besides the fundamental rights, there are also certain fundamental duties enshrined in the constitution under Article 51A in part IV-A for every citizen in order to maintain the integrity of the nation by maintaining equality because of its rich diversity and cultural values. The main focus of the law is to treat the minorities on par with the majority so as to end any form of discrimination and to create confidence in the mind of the minorities.
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