Time to intensify the discussion on abolishing Article 30 that increases religious discrimination

After the formation of the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the abolition of unnecessary laws. The Modi government has also abolished 1,500 such laws. There has been a long-standing demand for the abolition of Article 30 of the Indian Constitution, which harms religious discrimination and communal harmony in a secular country. Religious and linguistic minorities have got many rights in the country under Article 30 of the Constitution. The odd thing is that the word ‘minority’ is not defined in the Constitution. According to the Gazette of India dated 27 January 2014, people of Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Parsi and Jainism have got minority community status in India.

The demand for giving minority status to Lingayats in Karnataka was vigorously raised during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre. Jainism, which has been an integral part of Hinduism for thousands of years for political gains, was given minority status in 2014. Earlier in 1980, the Ramakrishna Mission had demanded minority status. In 1995, the Supreme Court considered the Ramakrishna Mission to be part of Hinduism. At one time, Arya Samaj Sansthan also went to court to declare itself a minority. In some states, tribal organisations are also seeking minority status under the influence of the Church. Such demands are being made to break the society. Religious discrimination has increased in Indian society due to Article 30. For this reason, the Supreme Court has demanded the minority status of Hindus in eight states – Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Punjab due to decreasing population of Hindus. It has been argued that in these states Hindus are not getting facilities due to non-status of minorities.

Under Article 28 of the Constitution, no religious instruction can be given in educational institutions run by the Government with financial assistance. In Article 29, citizens resident in the territory of India or any part thereof have got the right to maintain their own special language, script or culture. Article 30 empowers minorities with religious or linguistic minorities in the country to establish and administer educational institutions. Minorities have the right under Article 30 to educate their children in their own language. We have three types of minority institutions running here. The first are the institutions seeking financial assistance along with the recognition from the government, the second are the institutions seeking the approval of the state government without financial assistance. Such institutes have to follow the rules set by the governments related to educational standards, syllabus, employment of teaching staff, discipline, cleanliness etc. The third category consists of institutions which neither seek recognition from the state nor seek financial assistance. That is, it is becoming clear that such institutions are running on the basis of foreign aid. Such institutions are allowed to implement their own rules. Other general laws like labour law, contract law, industrial law, tax law, economic rules etc. have to be followed. Educational institutions have got the right of administration under Article 30. Under no circumstances can the government interfere in such institutions. There has been continuous discussion in the matter of conversion by minority institutions.

Due to Articles 29 and 30, Dalits, backward and tribal people do not get reservation in minority institutions. Reservation is not applicable despite the elimination of minority institution status in Aligarh Muslim University. The government supports up to 95 percent of the minority educational institutions. For this, an institution called the National Commission for Minority Institutes has been formed. In 2006, the Allahabad High Court did not consider AMU as a minority institution. The AMU administration has also challenged the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court. The matter is upon a seven-member bench. The Modi government has withdrawn the challenge petition filed by the UPA government in this matter. The need of the hour is to intensify the discussion on abolishing Article 30 which increases religious discrimination.

The writer is national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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