Article 30 of the Indian Constitution – Concept and relevance
Protection of rights of the religious and ethnic minorities is the bedrock of India’s secular values. With a legacy of bringing all religions under its fold, India has always advocated the principle of equality. The Article 30 of Indian Constitution is one of the many provisions that ensures preservation of minority rights.
Concept of Article 30
Article 30 is classified under Part III of the Indian Constitution that elucidates all the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the citizens of India irrespective of their religion, caste and sex. Article 30 upholds the right of the minorities “to establish and administer educational institutions.”
Besides safeguarding the rights of religious and linguistic minorities to establish educational institutions of their choice, the Article categorically directs the government to ensure that the minority rights do not get abrogated in case of compulsory acquisition of educational institutions run by minorities. The clause (1A) was inserted in the Article during the 44th amendment of the Indian Constitution in 1978. The primary objective behind including this clause was to make sure that acquisition of minority institution should be followed by ‘conformable compensation.’
The clause (2) of Article 30 further creates a level playing field for the minority institutions. It states that the government shall not discriminate against any educational institution run by religious or linguistic minority while granting aid.
Issues questioning relevance of Article 30
Article 30 has set a dangerous precedent. The fact that it gives minorities the right to ‘administer’ educational institutions is being looked upon with serious concern. It simply implies that the government cannot exercise any control on the formation and management of the governing body of a minority educational institution. Even in case of ‘gross malpractice’, the government cannot intervene and take charge.
The clause (1A) had come under severe criticism as it exempts minority institutions from the obligation of implementing the reservation policy for backward castes. This is in sharp contrast to the Constitution that provides reservations for backward classes. Article 30 also exempts unaided minority institutions from reserving 25 percent seats for the poor, as explained under the Right to Education Act.
Although the intention of Article 30 was to ensure that minorities are not denied equal treatment, in reality, it is seen as a legislation that denies non-minority the right to “establish and administer” their institutions. According to the constitutional experts, Article 30 divides the country on religious lines since institutions run by the Hindus suffer government intervention, while the minority institutions enjoy complete autonomy.
It is evident that Article 30 protects the rights of the few and deprives the majority. The developments in the recent past indicate a possibility of communal imbalance being aggravated as many institutions started claiming minority status purely for the sake of benefits they can avail.