ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Primary Education and Minority Rights

In Pramati Educational and Cultural Trust v Union of India (2014), the Supreme Court preferred an outdated interpretation of minority rights under Article 30(1) in keeping all minority schools, aided and unaided, beyond the scrutiny posed by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Indian Supreme Court has an opportunity in Independent School Federation of India v State of Uttar Pradesh (2016) to correct this and redeem itself.

There are major concerns about how minority rights and their interpretation by the Supreme Court have led to the sabotaging of claims of social justice amongst children belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS) and disadvantaged group (DG) categories. In 2016, we witnessed gross infractions of minority rights in various parts of the country. The financial capital of India, Mumbai, witnessed the misuse of minority status to hoodwink the obligation of providing 25% reservation for children belonging to EWS and DG categories (Sarkar and Dadawala 2014). Similar instances were noticed in Karnataka, Goa, Pune, Uttar Pradesh and other parts (Swamy 2016; Goacom 2016; Ambast and Gaur 2016). This all happened due to a regressive judgment given by the Supreme Court in Pramati Educational and Cultural Trust v Union of India (2014), exempting minority schools from the application of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act).

The dual idea of pluralism and diversity offers strength and promotes accommodativeness in the Indian democracy. It is interesting how, in the name of pluralism, minority rights have evolved by creating a superior vocabulary for themselves in their discourses under the Indian constitution. The word minority evokes an imagination characterised by vulnerability, weakness, and amenability to exploitation. The understated premise is girded in by the assumption of the majority trampling the minority, if given a free hand. In order to skirt around this situation, special protection was invested in the minorities of India under the Indian Constitution. In order to maintain plurality and the secular nature of democracy, this feature was found quintessential, and rightly so. The constituent assembly members safeguarded the interest of minority communities in providing them education of their “choice,” and they conceived this to be the best way of protecting their interests.

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Updated On : 21st Nov, 2017
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