Minority communities are communities that are present in small population in the country but have distinctive cultural, linguistic, religious identities. For example, the National Commission for Minorities has identified muslims, jains, buddhists and other such communities as minorities in India.
Why they should be allowed?
- Constitutional provisions:
- Art 30(1) provides for setting up of minority institutions and Art 30(2) provides for non-discrimination of State in providing aid.
- Supreme Court ruling:
- SC in TMA Pai Foundation Case has noted that institutions such as AMU have been involved with commendable work in Social sciences and imparting education to Muslim youth which can be considered as charitable work.
- Preservation of minority beliefs, languages, literature, architecture and arts, traditions and culture
- Promotion of education among minorities, especially women
- Promotion of secular ethics
Even the Sachar Committee report has encouraged state’s participation in ensuring that minority institutions are well-funded.
Right to Education — Supreme Court’s exemption of minority institutions from some provisions. Which are universally applicable and which are conflicting?
Kerela high court has recently ruled that “no detention policy” envisaged under the RTE Act should be applicable to minority run schools as well. The reasoning is that this policy is consistent with Right to life under article 21 as it is in “best interest” of the child. [Sobha George Case]. Key takeaway from this judgment is that some provisions of RTE have a universal appeal and cannot be denied as their directly fulfill fundamental rights.
This runs contradictory to Pramati judgment of the Supreme Court. In this, the SC has ruled that minority institutions are exempt from following RTE guidelines.
- Pramati judgment is flawed because:
- RTE Act has some universal provisions on infrastructural norms, pupil-teacher ratio etc. which are absolutely necessary for good education of children and cannot be exempt for even minority institutions.
Provisions of RTE which are Universally Applicable
- Article 29(2): a government-aided minority school cannot discriminate against students on grounds of religion, race, caste, language in the matters of their admission
- Article 21A: in the Indian constitution making Education a fundamental Right
- Cultural Trust v. Union of India (2014) & Pramati judgment: SC had exempted minority schools from the purview of the RTE Act
- No-detention policy (NDP): obligation not in the Act but under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and in the “best interest” of the child and could independently be considered a fundamental right
- Rights of minorities: RTE conflict Article 30 with the specific contexts of the rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. But it is not absolute and not misadministration. So RTE can be enforced for its benefit.
Recent conflicting judgments- Sobha George and Pramati judgments needs a ‘constitutionally-permissible balance’ between right to education and minority rights requires an interpretation that makes them mutually reinforcing rather than irreconcilable.
Pramati judgment has excluded some of the RTE provisions from application to Minority schools.