The Punjab and Haryana High Court in its latest judgement rejected the writ petition by Chandigarh Associations and submitted that an institution is a minority institution within the meaning of Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India, provided it was established by a religious or linguistic minority. The kind of education to be imparted is the choice of the minority.
The entire controversy in the case of ‘The Director School Education vs National Commission for Minority, on 20 March 2020’, revolves around the status of the school. The primary dispute that arose between the parties is whether respondent No.3- ‘school’ is a minority educational institution or not.
The society, on one hand, objectified an organization of minority holding the Punjabi Language, Punjabi Culture, History of Prophets and Gurus being taught on top priority yet admission being open into the school irrespective of caste, creed, community and religion. The Chandigarh Administration meanwhile, notified a scheme requiring an allottee to reserve 15% or more seats for students belonging to economically weaker sections of the society and charging of nominal fee from them.
Article 30(1) of the Constitution provides that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
There is no reason why the benefit of Art. 30(1) should be limited only to educational institutions established after the commencement of the Constitution. The language employed in Art. 30(1) is wide enough to cover both pre-Constitution and post-Constitution institutions.
The Sikh minority community certificates to students applying for admission in the school against a quota of 20% reserved for them. Thus, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed on this short ground.
Secondly, the school was allotted land in the year 1988 and the 1996 Scheme nowhere states that the terms thereof would be applicable to existing schools also. A direction to the existing schools to comply with terms of the 1996 Scheme was unlawful.
There are three conditions which must be fulfilled before the protection and privileges of Art. 30(1) may be claimed, namely,
- there must be a minority community,
- one or more of the members of that community should, after the commencement of the Constitution, seek to exercise the right to establish an educational institution of his or their choice, and
- the educational institution must be established for the members of his or their own community
A minority educational institution cannot be forced to implement directions of the State to reserve seats for economically weaker sections of the society as the same would be a violation of its fundamental right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India.
Without prejudice to the provisions contained in the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 (19 of 1992), where an authority established by the Central Government or any State Government, rejects the application for the grant of such status, the aggrieved person may appeal against such order of the authority to the Commission.
Article 30 not only refers to religious minorities but also to linguistic minorities. The right to establish an institution is their choice and there stands no limitation on the subjects being taught or to admitting students belonging to other communities as well.
On merits, it has been contended that the record indicates that the founder members of the society belonged to the Sikh religion.
From the observations, the Bench held that for the enjoyment of the right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India, the minority should not only establish an educational institution but the same should also be for the benefit, financial benefit, of the minority community.
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