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The fundamental right to protect the interest of the minorities1 enshrined under Art.

29(1) will be
violated again by the action of the state.

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

The words “religious denomination” in Article 26 of the Constitution must take their colour from
the word “religion” and if this be so, the expression “religious denomination” must also satisfy
three conditions:2
“(1) It must be a collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs or doctrines which they
regard as conducive to their spiritual well-being, that is, a common faith;
(2) common organisation; and
(3) designation by a distinctive name.”

The right is also protected under Article 29 of the Constitution of India. It cannot be denied that
Jains have their own culture and therefore any section of the citizens residing in the territory of
India having culture of its own has the right to conserve the same. The Jain community is a
religious minority community and also it is a cultural minority and therefore it is the mandate of
the constitution that the State shall not impose upon it any other culture which may be local or
otherwise. The state has no authority to force feed a Sadhak who has taken the vow of
sanllekhna.(santhara case)

Art 29(1) is a right conferred upon those sections of the community which constitute a minority.3
It can be inferred from Art 29(1) that if a cultural minority has the right to preserve its language,
script and culture and the state shall not impose upon it any other culture which may be local or
otherwise.4 It also includes the right “to agitate for protection of the language, including political
agitation.”5 The right conferred by Art 29(1) is absolute in nature and cannot be subjected to
reasonable restrictions unlike that of Art.19 (1).6

Tribal communities have been unable to safeguard and promote their language and culture; even
though Article 19(5) of the constitution states that a cultural or linguist minority has the right to
conserve its language and culture. This means that Tribal’s as individual and groups have right to

Jagdevsinghsidhanti v. Pratap Singh Daulta, AIR 1965 SC 183
S.P. Mittal v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 51
Kerala Education Bill, in re, AIR 1958 SC 956: 1959 SCR 995
Durga Das Basu, Shorter Constitution of India(14th ed. 2009).
Jagdev Singh Sidhanthi v. Pratap Singh Daulta, AIR 1965 SC 183.
Jagdev Singh Sidhanthi v. Pratap Singh Daulta, AIR 1965 SC 183.
use their own language, to practice their own culture, to study their own history, tradition and
heritage etc. The state cannot, by law, impose upon them any other culture or language.

International convention ratified by India

The right to culture – and the right to take part in culture – was, at first, purely an individual
right, as provided by Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR). Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), which affirms the right to culture for members of minorities and indigenous peoples.
Article 27 specifically stipulates that persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities ‘shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to
enjoy their own culture’ .Culture and religion Religious expressions are also included in the
concept of intangible culture.

In 1992 the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Minorities Declaration by consensus
(resolution 47/135).7 It is the main reference document for minority rights. It grants to persons
belonging to minorities: Protection, by States, of their existence and their national or ethnic,
cultural, religious and linguistic identity (art. 1); The right to enjoy their own culture, to profess
and practise their own religion, and to use their own language in private and in public (art. 2 (1))

The customary and cultural rights of indigenous people have also been the subject matter of
various international conventions. International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on
Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No.107) was the first comprehensive
international instrument setting forth the rights of indigenous and tribal populations which
emphasized the necessity for the protection of social, political and cultural rights of indigenous
people. Following that there were two other conventions ILO Convention (No. 169) and
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 and United Nations Declaration on the rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), 2007, India is a signatory only to the ILO Convention (No. 107).

UNGA Res.47/135, 18 December 1992
The expression “minority” has been used in Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution but it has
nowhere been defined. The Preamble to the Constitution proclaims to guarantee to every citizen
“liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”. Group of Articles 25 to 30 guarantee
protection of religious, cultural and educational rights to both majority and minority
communities. It appears that keeping in view the constitutional guarantees for protection of
cultural, educational and religious rights of all citizens, it was not felt necessary to define
“minority”. Minority as understood from the constitutional scheme signifies an identifiable group
of people or community who were seen as deserving protection from likely deprivation of their
religious, cultural and educational rights by other communities who happen to be in majority and
likely to gain political power in a democratic form of government based on election.8

The fundamental rights of a religious and linguistic minority under Article 30(1) are, indeed,
multi-faceted. The scope of each facet arising in different contexts has been explained by the
Supreme Court in a series of pronouncements.9 The Supreme Court has explained the differing
contexts in which the minority and cultural rights are required to be protected within the frame
work of the Constitution. The pronouncements of the Supreme Court show how the interpretative
process could file the interstices of the constitutional framework of the right with flesh and blood
and animate the electric spirit of the Constitution in regard to the rights of minorities. The aspect
presented by this petition is one of the facets which has also been illumed by a series of
prouncements, of which last mentioned case is particularly instructive.10

Bal Patil v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC
Anjuman Hami-e-Muslimeen v. Education Appellate Tribunal for Uttara Kannada, 1980
SCC OnLine Kar 381 : ILR 1981 KAR 304 : (1981) 1 SLR 499 : 1981 Lab IC 1159
The Kerala Education Bill, 1957 [A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 956.] ; Sidharajbhai v. State of
Gujarat [A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 540.] ; W. Proost v. State of Bihar [A.I.R. 1969 S.C. 465.] ; State of
Kerala v. Mother Provincial [(1970) 2 SCC 417 : A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 2079.] ; St. Xaviers
College v. State of Gujarat [(1974) 1 SCC 717 : A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 1389.] ; G.F. College
Shajahanpur v. Agra University [(1975) 2 SCC 283 : A.I.R. 1975 S.C. 1821.] ; Lilly Kurin v. Sr.
Lewina [(1979) 2 SCC 124 : A.I.R. 1979 S.C. 52.] and in All Saints High School v. Government
of A.P. [(1980) 2 SCC 478 : A.I.R. 1980 S.C. 1042.