In India, the National Constitution of 1950 or any other Constitutional document does not define the word 'Minority'. The Constitution only refers to Minorities and speaks of those "based on religion or language".
In the Constitution of India, the Preamble (as amended in 1976) declares the State to be "Secular", and this is of special relevance for the Religious Minorities. Equally relevant for them, especially, is the prefatory declaration of the Constitution in its Preamble that all citizens of India are to be secured "liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and "equality of status and of opportunity."
The Constitution of India has provided two types of safe-guards -general and specific to safeguard various interests of the minorities. In the first category are those provisions that are equally enjoyed by both groups. The provisions ensure justice- social, economic and political equality to all. The second category consists of provisions meant specifically for the protection of particular interests of minorities.
Part IV of the Constitution of India, containing non-justifiable Directive Principles of State Policy, includes the following provisions having significant implications for the Minorities:
Part IV-A of the Constitution, relating to Fundamental Duties, applies in full to all citizens, including those belonging to Minorities and of special relevance for the Minorities are the following provisions in this Part:
Some other provisions of the Constitution having special relevance and implications for the Minorities are:
Part III of the Constitution gives certain fundamental rights. Some of these rights are common to all the citizens of India including minorities. These rights are enshrined in -
This ensures equality before law and equal protection of law.
Article 15: This prohibits discrimination on any ground i.e. religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except the procedure established by law.
Article 25: This ensures freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.
Article 26: This ensures a right to manage religious institutions, religious affairs, subject to public order, morality and health.
Article 29: Gives minorities a right to conserve their language, script or culture.
Art 244(1): Regarding administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas -
(1) The provisions of the Fifth schedule shall apply to the administration and
control of the Scheduled areas and Scheduled tribes in any state other than the
state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. (2) The provisions of the
sixth schedule shall apply to the administration of the tribal areas in the
state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
Art 244(A): Formation of an autonomous state comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and creation of local legislature or Council of Ministers or both thereof. Parliament may by law form within the state of Assam an autonomous state comprising (whether wholly or part) all or any of the tribal areas.
Art 275: Provided that there shall be paid out of consolidated fund of India as grants-in-aid of the revenues of a state such capital and recurring sums as may be necessary to enable the state to meet the costs of such schemes of development as may be undertaken by the state with the approval of the Govt of India for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the scheduled tribes in that state or raising the level of administration of the scheduled areas therein to that of the administration of the rest of the areas in that state. Provided further that there shall be paid out of the consolidated fund of India as grant-in-aid of the revenues of the state of Assam sum capital and recurring.
Art 330: Reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
in the House of People.
- Seats shall be reserved for scheduled castes
- The scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam
- The scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts in Assam.
Art 332: Reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
in the Legislative Assemblies of the states.
- Seats shall be reserved for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (except the ST's of autonomous districts of Assam) in the Legislative Assembly of every state.
- Seats shall be reserved also for the autonomous districts in the Legislative Assembly of the state of Assam.
Art 334: Reservation of seats and special representation in Legislative Assemblies and House of People to cease after fifty years.
Art 335: Claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to service and posts-The claims of the members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a state.
Art 338: National Commission for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
Art 339: Control of the Union over the administration of Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes.
Art 340: Appointment of a commission by the president to investigate the
conditions of backward classes.
Art 341: Power of the President to specify the castes, races or tribes or posts of or groups within castes, races or tribes as scheduled castes.
Art 342: Power of the President to specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as scheduled tribe.
Art 350(A): Facilities for instruction in mother tongue of a minority group.
Art 350(B): Special officer for linguistic minorities.