Minority Status in India

JUL 21

Preliminary   > Polity   >   Miscellaneous   >   Vulnerable & Backward sections

Why in news?

  • Recently, while hearing a petition, the Supreme Court has said that the Minority status of religious and linguistic communities is “State-dependent”.

Minorities notified by the Government of India:

  • Currently, only those communities notified under section 2(c) of the NCM (National Commission for Minorities) Act, 1992, by the central government are regarded as minority.
    • Despite the Supreme Court's 11-judge bench judgment in T.M.A Pai case, which clearly determined that linguistic and religious minorities must be identified at the state level rather than at the national level, section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act 1992 gave the Centre "unbridled power" to inform minorities.
  • In 1992, with the enactment of the NCM Act, 1992, the MC became a statutory body and was renamed as the NCM.
  • In 1993, the first Statutory National Commission was set up and five religious communities viz. The Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities.
  • In 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.

Constitutional Provisions for Minority:

  • Article 29:
    • It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.
    • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
    • However, the SC held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.
  • Article 30:
    • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
    • The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).
  • Article 350-B:
    • The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India.
    • It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Which of the following communities are notified as ‘minorities’ under National Minorities Commission Act, 1992?

1. Jews

2. Sikhs

3. Buddhists

4. Parsis

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1,2 and 3 only

(b) 2,3 and 4 only

(c) 1 and 4 only

(d) 1,2,3 and 4

                          B

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