Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 of the Indian Constitution play pivotal roles in ensuring the rights of citizens and minorities, respectively. Over the years, the Supreme Court has been called upon to interpret the scope and extent of these rights and their interrelation.
This article guarantees every citizen “the right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”. But this is not an absolute right, and is subject to reasonable restrictions “in the interests of the general public” as provided under Article 19(6).
Article 30 provides the right to all minorities, whether religious or linguistic, to “establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”. It acts as a safeguard for minorities to preserve their language, script, or culture.
Interplay in Supreme Court Judgments:
- T.M.A. Pai Foundation vs. State of Karnataka (2002):
- The 11-judge bench provided a comprehensive view regarding the rights of minorities under Article 30.
- The Court held that while minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions, this right is not absolute. Such institutions must maintain recognized standards of education.
- The judgment also clarified that while minority educational institutions are primarily for minorities, they can’t exclude others completely. Non-minorities can be admitted, but within limits.
- P.A. Inamdar & Ors vs State Of Maharashtra & Ors (2005):
- The Supreme Court held that the State can’t impose its reservation policy on minority and non-minority unaided private colleges, including professional colleges.
- It reiterated that the right to admit students is an essential facet of the right to administer educational institutions for both Articles 19(1)(g) and 30.
- St. Xavier’s College vs. State of Gujarat (1974):
- This case concerned the autonomy of a minority educational institution.
- The Court held that while the state can regulate to ensure excellence in education, it cannot destroy the constitutional protection given to minorities. The regulation must be reasonable and for the welfare of the student community.
Dynamics between the Two Articles:
- Trade & Profession vs. Cultural Preservation: While Article 19(1)(g) allows everyone to pursue any lawful trade or profession (including running educational institutions), Article 30 ensures that minorities can establish and administer educational institutions to preserve their heritage, culture, and script. Both rights can coexist harmoniously.
- Reasonable Regulations: Both rights, though fundamental, are not absolute. The State can impose reasonable restrictions for maintaining the standards of education.
- Equal Treatment in Admissions: Via judgments like T.M.A. Pai, the Supreme Court emphasized that minority institutions, while set up primarily for minorities, cannot discriminate against others. This stems from the essence of Article 19(1)(g) where everyone has the right to a profession and trade, ensuring non-discrimination in the professional and commercial arena.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s judgments have played a key role in maintaining a balance between an individual’s right to occupation, trade, or profession, and the rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. Both rights aim to uphold the spirit of freedom, equality, and preservation of diverse cultures as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.