Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India provide cultural and educational rights to religious and linguistic minorities in India to accommodate pluralism and embrace unity in diversity. These two articles further provide four different constitutional rights which are as follows:
Article 29(1) guarantees to the citizens of India residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, the right to conserve the same.
Article 29(2) states that no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the state or receiving aid out of state funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste or language.
The Article 30(1) grants the right to all the minorities whether based on religion or language, the right to establish and administer educational institutions. Two types of minorities: Religious and linguistic.
Article 30(2) prohibits the state in granting aid to education institutions to discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of Minority.
Distinction between Article 29(1) and Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India
1. 29(1) confers right on all sections of society, 30(1) – confers right only on minority based on language or religion.
2. 29(1) deals with three subjects: language, script and culture. 30(1) deal with minorities based on religion or language.
3. 29(1) provides right to conserve language, script or culture, 30(1) provides right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
4. 29(1) does not deal with education. 30(1) deals with only the establishment and administration of educational institutions.
Important case laws
S.P. Mittal v Union of India: In this case, the validity of Auroville Act, 1980 was challenged. The court held that the benefit of Article 30(1) can be claimed by the community only on providing that it’s a religious or linguistic minority and that the institution was established by it. Since Auroville is not a religious denomination, but only reflects upon the teaching of Aurobindo, it does not constitute a separate religion by itself but only a philosophy.
State of Madras v Champakam Dorairajan: In this case, an order by the Madras government fixing the proportion of each students that could be admitted into state medical and engineering colleges was challenged as it denied admission solely on the basis of religion or caste. It was held to be invalid violating Article 29(2) of the Indian Constitution. Subsequently, article 15(4) was amended by the 1st constitutional amendment empowering the state to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Difference between Article 15(1) and Article 29(2) are as follows:
1. Art 15 protects all citizens against state, whereas Article 29(2) protects against state or anybody else who denies the right conferred.
2. Article 15 protects against discrimination generally, whereas Article 29(2) protects against denial of admission into educational institutions.
3. Article 15 is general and wide, whereas Article 29(2) is confined to educational institutions maintained or aided by the state.
4. Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex or place of birth, whereas Article 29(2) does not mention these grounds.
5. Article 15 gives right to any member of the society, whereas Article 29(2) gives right to an individual.
State of Bombay v Bombay Educational Society: In this case, an order was passed by the state government which provided that if Anglo-Indians want to maintain their educational institutions and teach in English, they should impart such education to Anglo-Indian students and if they decide to admit other Indians they would forfeit their aid unless they switched to Hindi as the medium of instruction. The Supreme Court struck down such order of the Bombay government banning admission of those whose mother tongue was not English into English medium schools because it denied admission solely on the ground of language and also held that minority educational institutions have the right to admit students of its choice, even if it receives government aid.
In DAV College, Bhatinda v State of Punjab: In this case, the university had declared that the sole medium of instruction in the affiliated colleges would be Punjabi. The Petitioners had contended that the right of the minorities to establish and administer educational institution also included the right to have a choice of medium of instruction. However, the university’s order was infringing upon their rights to be instructed in Hindi and it was violative of Article 22(1) and 30(1). The court agreed with the petitioners and granted them the relief to teach in whichever medium they wanted to.
Re Kerala Education Bill: In this case, the supreme court held that the fundamental right given to all minorities under Article 30(1) to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice does not militate against the claim of the state to insist that in granting aid the state may prescribe reasonable regulations to ensure the excellence of the institutions. The court though said that the condition for granting aid should not be imposed in such a manner so as to take away the rights of minority guaranteed by Article 30(1). Thus, the rights conferred on the religious and linguistic minorities to administer educational institutions of their choice is not an absolute right. This right is not free from regulation. Right to administer does not give rise to the Right of Maladministration. However, these regulations must satisfy the dual test which includes that such regulations must be reasonable and should be regulative of the educational character of the institution and are conducive in making the institution an effective vehicle of education.
St. Xaviers College v State of Gujarat: In this case, the college was run by a Jesuit society of Ahmedabad with the object of giving higher education to Christian students. The validity of certain sections of Gujarat University act was challenged which provided for the administration of the college in effect to the government and the university through which the college is affiliated. The court held that these provisions abridged the right of the minority to administer the education institutions and therefore these provisions did not apply to minority institutions as the right to administer includes the right to ‘conduct’ and ‘manage’ the affairs of the institution.
St. Stephens college v University of Delhi: In this case, the validity of admission programme and preference given to Christian students by the college was challenged as violative of Delhi University circulars for admission. The admission prospectus provided that there will be an interview prior to the final selection to college. The university stated that the college was bound to follow the university rules for admission and the college could not conduct an interview and had to take the students on the basis of their marks in the qualifying admission. The College filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the university circulars on the ground that they were violative of their fundamental right to manage their college under Article 30. The Supreme Court held that college was not bound by the university circulars because of their minority character and right under Article 30(1). The court also said that the right to select students for admission is an important facet of administration and thus is inherent in the right under Article 30(1). It further held that minority aided educational institutions may preserve 50% seats for their community candidates and are entitled to give them preference in admissions as it is necessary to maintain minority character of institutions.
T.M.A. Pai Foundation v State of Karnataka: In this case, it was held that the state governments and universities cannot regulate the admission policy of unaided educational institutions run by linguistic and religious minorities but they can specify academic qualifications for students and make rules and regulations for maintaining academic standards and the same principle applies in the appointment of teachers and staff. The court held that minority educational institution does not lose its minority character simply because it receives aid from the government but at the same time made it clear that they would have to admit non-minority students whose constitutional rights under Article 29(2) are not to be infringed.
P.A. Inamdar v State of Maharashtra: In this case the Supreme Court held that:
1. the private unaided professional institutions cannot be forced to accept reservation policy of the state as it is violative of Article 30 and 19(1)(g).
2. There is nothing wrong in having centralized entrance test being held for one group of institutions imparting similar education.
3. Every institution is free to devise its own fee structure subjected that there is no profiteering and no capitation fee directly or indirectly.
4. Charging of capitation fee is not permitted.
Bal Patil v Union of India: In this case, it was held that the identification of a community as minority has to be done on a state basis and not all India basis. The central government has to exercise its powers for identification of minority groups not merely on the recommendation of the commission but on consideration of the social, cultural and religious conditions of the community in the state. It was further held that the Jain community is not a minority in the State of Maharashtra.
Endnotes S.P. Mittal v Union of India, AIR 1983 SC 1.  State of Madras v Champakam Dorairajan, AIR 1951 SC 226.  State of Bombay v Bombay Educational Society, AIR 1954 SC 561.  DAV College, Bhatinda v State of Punjab, AIR 1971 SC 1731.  Re Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956.  St. Xaviers college v State of Gujarat, AIR 1974 SC 1389.  St. Stephens college v University of Delhi, (1992) 1 SCC 558.  T.M.A. Pai Foundation v State of Karnataka, AIR 2003 SC 355.  P.A. Inamdar v State of Maharashtra, AIR 2005 SC 3236.  Bal Patil v Union of India, AIR 2005 SC 3172.
Author Details: Garima Darda (Symbiosis Law School, Pune)