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States can regulate minority institutions

Date: 07 January 2020 Tags: Constitution


The Supreme Court held that the state is well within its rights to introduce a regulatory regime in the “national interest” for taking some measures in governing minority institutions.



The judgment came on a challenge to the validity of the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act of 2008. The State Act mandated that the process of appointment of teachers in aided madrasahs, recognised as minority institutions, would be done by a Commission, whose decision would be binding.



  • The Supreme court said that the state had the right to provide minority educational institutions with well-qualified teachers in order for them to “achieve excellence in education.”

  • It also said that the managements of minority institutions cannot ignore such a legal regime by saying that it is their fundamental right under Article 30 of the Constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions according to their choice.

  • The judgement said the regulatory law should however balance the dual objectives of ensuring standard of excellence as well as preserving the right of the minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions. 

  • It said that Article 30(1) (right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice) was neither absolute nor above the law.

  • It allowed an objection to be raised if an unfavourable treatment is meted out to an educational institution established and administered by minority.

Level of freedom based on education

  • The court broadly divides education into two categories, secular education and education “directly aimed at or dealing with preservation and protection of the heritage, culture, script and special characteristics of a religious or a linguistic minority.”

  • When it comes to the latter, the court advocated “maximum latitude” to be given to the management to appoint teachers.

  • The court reasons that only teachers who believe in the religious ideology or in the special characteristics of the concerned minority would alone be able to imbibe in the students admitted in such educational institutions, what the minorities would like to preserve, profess and propagate.

  • However, minority institutions where the curriculum was “purely secular”, the intent must be to impart education availing the best possible teachers.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 and Article 30 under Fundamental Rights)

  • Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities

(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

  • Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language , shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause ( 1 ), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.

(2) The state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.


T.M.A Pai case

T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka it was held that “the right to establish and maintain educational institutions may also be sourced to Article 26 (a), which grants, in positive terms, the right to every religious denomination or any section thereof to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, subject to public order, morality and health.

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