In Indian politics the word ‘Minorities’is used very often – whether it is the Telangana Govt.’s decision to give 12% reservation to minorities, or discussions on triple talaq & the bill, Uniform Civil Code, curbing population jihad etc.. But whenever this word ‘minority’ is used, one invariably thinks that it refers to Muslims and Christians. But, does our constitution says so?
Let’s find out,
Article 29 (1) of our Constitution titled ‘Protection of interests of minorities’ says: “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”. The Article does not talk about ‘Muslims’ or ‘Christians’ or religion, but only about ‘language, script or culture’. So, the question of ‘religious minority’ does not arise at all.
Article 29 (1) gives us the right to conserve our ‘language, script or culture’. Looking at the diversity of our nation (with different castes, languages, scripts, life styles, etc), the framers of our Constitution have prudently inserted Article 29 (1), with a view to strengthening national integration.
However, this Article 29 (1) meant for protecting the ‘language, script or culture’ has been distorted to give it a religious (read communal) colour, by the earlier Nehruvian dispensation. The Article is twisted to mean only Muslims and Christians, against the intention of our Constitution framers. The term ‘language, script or culture’ is given a go by and the term ‘religious minorities’ has taken its place.
Further this right to conserve the ‘language, script or culture’ is denied to those who have settled in J&K, Nagaland, Mizoram, etc. from other parts of our country, by the majority community there. On the contrary, the majority in these states (Muslims and Christians) are still treated as a minority.
This is a subversion of our Constitution by the UPA governments at the Centre (before 2014)and in the States, with an intention to polarize votes in their favour.
Further, the Govt. of India has enacted a law – National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, without defining the word ‘minority’. However, under this act, the Govt. has declared five religious communities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Bhuddists and Parsis – as minorities. Now Jains are also included.
Article 15 (1) of our constitution says: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”.
When the constitution prohibits any discrimination of the citizens on the basis of religion, how can a law be enacted discriminating people on the basis of religion? Hence, the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 is unconstitutional.
First, the Govt. of India has snatched away the rights available to a linguistic minority and has wrongly conferred it on religious minorities, i.e. Muslims and Christians, violating Article 29 (1) of our Constitution.
Second, by enacting a law – National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 – the Govt. of India has violated Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.
“The Constitution of India used the word ‘minorities’ or its plural form in some Article 29 to 30 and 350A to 350B. But does not define it anywhere. Article 29 has the word ‘minorities’ in its marginal heading but speaks of ‘any section of citizens …. Having a distinct language, script or culture.’ This may be whole community generally seen as a minority or group within a majority community. Article 30 speaks specifically of two categories of minorities – religious and linguistic. The remaining two articles – 350A & 350B relate to linguistic minorities only.”
(Article 30 ‘Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions’ says “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”)
Secularism means non-interference of the state in the religious affairs of its citizen. In a multi-religious country like ours, we can say secularism means ‘respecting all religions and treating them equally’. But the Govts. – past and present – are tomtoming about secularism and at the same time are providing special privileges to a section of the people purely on the basis of religion. This is just oxymoron, apart from being unconstitutional. Also, discrimination on the basis of religion is against the canons of Justice, Equality and Fraternity as enshrined in the Preamble to our Constitution. This is also against Article 51A (e) – Fundamental Duties – “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India …”
It is time that this distortion of the word ‘minority’ is stopped.
Connect With Me On Twitter : @immortalsoulIN