Cultural and Educational Rights

Cultural and Educational Rights

This article deals with ‘Cultural and Educational Rights .’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Article 29

  • Article 29 has two clauses
    • Any section of citizens residing in any part of India having distinct language, script or culture has right to conserve it
    • No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institute maintained by state  or receiving aid on grounds only of religion, race, caste & language
  • First clause right of group &  second right of individual citizen
  • Supreme Court’s ruling regarding this
    • Scope not restricted only to minorities as commonly assumed
    • Section of citizen include minority as well as majority
    • Right to conserve language also include right to agitate for it and making promises for conservation of language of section of people don’t amount to corrupt practices under Representation of People’s Act ,1951

Article 30

  • Grant following rights to minorities( religious or linguistic)
    • Right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
    • Compensation amount fixed by state for compulsory acquisition don’t apply to minority educational institution (44th Amendment) 
    • In granting aid, state shall not discriminate against educational institute managed by minority
  • Minority include both religious and linguistic minority
  • Reasonable restrictions can be imposed to promote efficiency & reduce maladministration.
  • However term minority is  no where defined in the constitution

To claim the benefits conferred by Article 30, institution must prove  (by Supreme Court in case involving Linguistic Minority)

  1. Institution is established by members of community which are in minority in that state
  2. Institution is administered by members of community which are in minority in that state
  3. Institution is primarily for the benefit of the minority community of the state where it is established.

What is meant by minorities ?

Constitution hasn’t defined term Minority . But it is defined by various Acts

  • National Commission for Minorities Act , 1993 : 6 communities have been notified ie Muslims, Sikhs , Buddhist , Christians , Parsis and Jains. (no linguistic minority has been notified till date.)
  • TMA Pai Foundation vs State of Karnataka (2003) : Basis of determining (linguistic) minorities shall be population in the concerned state . Court also noted the fact states are re-organised on the basis of language while arriving at given decision

International Perspective

These rights are recognised internationally by

  1. UN Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR)
  2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Issues related to Cultural and Educational Rights

Issue 1: Minority Status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) & Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI)  in Question

2019 : Issue regarding Minority Status of AMU referred to 7 Judge Bench of Supreme Court


  • AMU was founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as the Madrasat ul Uloom in 1875 in Aligarh
  • In 1920Indian Legislative Council passed act to make it University.  

After Independence

  • 1966 : SC said in Azeez Basha case that it is not clear from Act of 1920 that AMU was established by Muslims of India & hence it cant be given Minority Status
  • 1981 : Parliament clarified  via Amendment => AMU was established by Muslims , although Act was made by Parliament.
  • 2005  : Allahabad HC declared 1981 Amendment to be unconstitutional

Reservation policy

  • In minority institutions , 50% seats can be reserved for that minority and rest 50% seats are open
  • Apart from that  their land could only be acquired by the government after paying compensation.

Arguments against their Minority Status

  • Jamia & AMU setup by Acts of Parliament. Government in secular country cant setup religious institutions.
  • Reservations on communal lines are not in the interest of National unity and Integrity
  • Due to minority character given to these universities, they do not reserve 50% seats for SC/ST and OBC’s, which is against Social Justice

Arguments in favour of their minority status

  • In  Azeez Basha versus Union of India case,  AMU was not a party
  • In Azeez Basha case, Supreme Court ruled that AMU was not a minority institution as it was set up by the British legislature, and not by Muslims. But  any central university can only be setup by an Act of Parliament( or state Legislature) 
  • Sachar Committee => Muslims in Higher Education are very low due to absence of reservation for Muslims . Hence, such institutes are in national interest
  • Right given under Article 30 is to prohibit state against making discrimination with minority institutions while giving any aid and not prohibiting state in funding minority institutions
  • Since Universities can only be established by Act of Parliament, so question was asked whether Art 30 don’t hold good for Universities . In The Kerala Education Bill case, SC stated that the key to understanding the true meaning  of Article 30(1) is the phrase “of their choice”. It means there is no limitation on  types and nature of the educational institutions that minorities can establish.

Issue 2: Are Sikhs religious minority in Punjab ? Or Muslims in J&K or Lakshadweep? Or Christians in Meghalaya/Nagaland?

Cases going on

Case 1 : Are Sikhs Minority in Punjab 

  • High Court rejected the minority status to Sikhs in Punjab on the grounds that the community was numerically strong.
  • Moreover, it held that the Punjab government had produced no material to show that Sikhs “apprehended deprivation of their religious, cultural or educational rights in the State of Punjab from any other community.” (case has to be settled by Supreme Court)

Case 2 : Are Hindus minority in Punjab ?

Apex court in DAV College case held Hindus as religious minority in the State of Punjab and thus there can be reservation of Hindus in the minority institutions run by them in the Punjab

Case 3 : Are Muslims Minority in J&K?

  • Case is also in Supreme Court.

Constitutional issues involved 

  • Minority is nowhere defined in Constitution –  As a result Supreme Court has to define it in constitutional cases.
  • There are two types of minorities ie religious & linguistic but can same consideration of geographical area will apply to both is other issue.

Earlier cases

  • Bal Patil judgment (2005) : Supreme Court held that a community should be protected as a minority only if there was an apprehension that the community may be “dominated” by other communities.
  • Kerala Education Bill case , 1957 :  Court held that minorities are to be defined at the level of state 
  • Constitution Bench of  11-judge in the historic 2002 T.M.A. Pai Foundation judgment held that it is the State, and not the whole of India, for determining a community as a linguistic minority. 


  • One approach can be to
    • Define religious minorities nationally and
    • Linguistic minorities on the basis of the state.
  • Other approach can be ,
    • If it is a Parliamentary law that is being challenged, minorities must be defined nationally.
    • If it is a state law, then minorities must be determined at the state level keeping in view numerical inferiority within the state.

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