Scope of Law for Minorities: – Expectations Vs. Reality

Minorities[1] are an explosive force which, if it erupts, can blow up the whole fabric of the State,” said Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

And will the law assist us in resolving the issue if it actually emerges at some point?

The definitive answer to it is a big NO.

It stands to reason that laws are formed by the legislature to govern the people, not to rule them. In order to preserve peace and harmony, the law works in such a way as to prevent the minority from being oppressed by the majority. And if the law is unable to maintain it, then unquestionably no power in the universe will be able to prevent the overflow of minorities’ rage towards unjustified suppression. The Indian Constituent Assembly’s legislators were extremely aware of this issue and made every effort to incorporate the necessary measures to avoid any such outcome and various committees and sub-committees worked to fulfilling the same purpose. Additionally, there are numerous stipulations in the current Indian Constitution, which start with Article 14 and ends on the reservation. The expectations that guided the creation of the legislation and the harsh reality are discussed in the passages that follow.

Existing Laws for Minorities

  1. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution[2]

All people living on Indian territory are guaranteed equality before the law and equal protection under the law, and discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth is forbidden by Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. By guaranteeing that everyone is treated equally and fairly by the law, regardless of their personal characteristics, Article 14 aims to create a just and equitable society. Lady Justice with Blindfold is the representation of the same.

  1. Article 29 of the Indian Constitution[3]

The right of any individual who belongs to a linguistic or religious minority to preserve their language, script, or culture is protected by Article 29 of the Indian Constitution. This article’s goal is to protect minority communities’ rights to cultural expression and education while also making sure that they are not subjected to prejudice or coerced into assimilating into the culture of the majority. The rights of minority communities are safeguarded and preserved by this article, which supports diversity and heterogeneity in Indian society.

  1. Article 30 of the Indian Constitution[4]

The freedom of minority-run educational institutions to keep their unique language, script, and culture is guaranteed under Article 30 of the Indian Constitution. This article’s goal is to guarantee minority communities’ autonomy over the establishment and management of educational institutions of their choosing, free from official interference. By enabling minority communities to maintain their distinctive identities and traditions through their educational institutions, this article aids in defending the cultural and educational rights of those populations. Article 30 seeks to support variety and plurality in Indian society by ensuring these rights.

  1. Article 38 of the Indian Constitution[5]

According to Article 38 of the Indian Constitution, it is the responsibility of the state to maintain social order in order to advance the welfare of the populace. In order to build a just and equitable society where all residents have access to basic necessities including food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care, the Indian state must implement the actions outlined in this article. The article also requires the state to work to reduce income disparities and ensure that there is no concentration of wealth or production resources that would be detrimental to everyone. A society where each citizen has the right to a sufficient means of subsistence and the right to live with dignity is what Article 38 ultimately aims to achieve.

  1. Article 39 of the Indian Constitution[6]

The DPSP[7], which are the standards that the Indian government must adhere to when drafting laws and policies, are outlined in Article 39 of the Indian Constitution. By outlining some essential ideas and objectives that the state must work towards, this essay aims to create a just and equal society. These values include ensuring that people have access to sufficient means of subsistence, that wealth is not concentrated, and that people have the right to work and education. The government is reminded by Article 39 of its responsibility to advance public welfare and make sure that the rules and regulations it enacts are just and equitable.

  1. Article 46 of the Indian Constitution[8]

The directive principles of state policy relating to the advancement of the educational and economic interests of weaker sections, particularly the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, are outlined in Article 46 of the Indian Constitution. The goal of this article is to ensure that the Indian government takes action to empower and uplift the underprivileged and marginalised groups in society, such as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, through economic growth and education. According to the article, the state is required to safeguard the weaker segments of society from social injustice and all other forms of exploitation, as well as to promote their economic and educational interests with special consideration.

  1. Article 347 of the Indian Constitution[9]

The language to be used for official purposes in the Union (federal) government and for communication between the Union and states is outlined in Article 347 of the Indian Constitution. It specifies that the President may determine the language or languages to be used for official Union purposes and for communication between the Union and states after consulting with the state governments. The provisions of Article 347 are designed to ensure that government operations and communication are efficient and effective.

Reality of Minorities

The following issues that minority populations in India have to deal with serve as a reminder of the necessity for ongoing efforts to combat prejudice and guarantee the effective protection of minority rights and representation.

  1. Communal Conflicts

Religious, ethnic, and political conflicts between various groups can lead to riots and other forms of intergroup conflict, which are frequent occurrences in India. They have led to widespread violence, material loss, and fatalities. These occurrences have a variety of reasons, but misconceptions, false information, and competing interests are frequently to blame. Together, leaders, communities, and citizens must address the root causes of these tensions in order to foster social cohesion. The likelihood of future riots can be decreased and peace can be promoted by addressing issues like poverty, inequality, and lack of education as well as through improving communication and understanding between various groups.

  1. Lack of Moral Standards (Anomie)

Anomie is a state of social instability or normlessness that is frequently defined by a lack of distinct social norms, values, or standards. Confusion, dissatisfaction, and a sense of isolation from society may result from this. Minorities in India, including Dalits (previously described as “untouchables”), tribal tribes, and religious minorities, might have serious issues because of anomie. These issues could include

  • Marginalization and unequal treatment:

These communities frequently encounter structural obstacles that prevent them from fully contributing to society, such as restricted access to political representation, employment opportunities, and higher education.

  • Financial weakness:

Many Indian minorities are poor and unable to obtain basic services like clean water and healthcare.

  • Social isolation:

These communities frequently feel excluded from the prevailing culture, which can cause them to feel disconnected from society and alienated.

  • Language

Language is an effective instrument that can alter our thoughts and views of other people. It can, however, also be employed to encourage prejudice against minority groups. This can happen in a number of ways:

  1. Language use has the potential to propagate negative stereotypes and biases against minority populations.
  2. Language limitations may prevent minorities from receiving equitable treatment and access to opportunities.
  3. Linguistic profiling is the practice of evaluating or treating individuals differently based on their speech, language, accent, or other characteristics. Minority groups may be subjected to discrimination as a result and may not receive equal treatment in a variety of contexts, including the workplace or in court.
  4. A language that is demeaning can fuel prejudice and violence against minority groups.

Conclusion

A multifaceted strategy that addresses both the underlying causes and the symptoms of discrimination and inequality is needed to address the problem of minorities in India. Several actions can be made to improve the condition of minorities in India, including education and awareness campaigns, the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, addressing social and cultural attitudes, etc. It is crucial to remember that solving the problem of minorities in India is a difficult and ongoing process that calls for the support and participation of the government, civil society, and the larger community. A society that recognises and embraces variety upholds justice and equality for everyone and offers minorities equal chances and protection should be the aim.

Author(s) Name: Jigyasa Nain (Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak)

References:

[1] National Commission for Minorities Act 1992, s 2 (c)

[2] The Constitution of India, art. 14

[3] The Indian Constitution, art. 29

[4] The Indian Constitution, art. 30

[5] The Indian Constitution, art. 38

[6] The Indian Constitution, art. 39

[7] Directive Principles of State Policy

[8] The Indian Constitution, art. 46

[9] The Indian Constitution, art. 347

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