By Manju Gupta
Minority Educational Institutions and Review of Constitution by L. Narain, Shri Prakashan, 167 pp, Rs 100.00
THIS book deals primarily with the decisions of the Supreme Court of India and on a few cases of High Court and is the labour of over 50 years by the author who has been a teacher, a principal of a postgraduate college and a member of the management board of Meerut College. The author is an advocate and with his knowledge of law, he has studied and analysed Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India in the fond hope that this Article is dealt with in the light of all the aspects raised therein.
Article 30(1) of the Constitution is perhaps the only Article wherein ?minority based on ?religion? has been taken note of in a secular republic into which, we, the people of India, have constituted ourselves. Thus the division of the ?people of India?, on the basis of religion, has been not only recognised but given a constitutional sanction. To add to it, this right has been granted to the ?minority? and not to the majority. All other rights, in respect of religion and to religious denominations, are subject to law but this right is absolute. And it is in respect
of the establishment and administration of institutions ?of their choice?.?
It is clear from the Preamble of the Constitution, particularly Articles 25 to 28, that the Constitution grants equality in the matter of religions to all individuals and groups, irrespective of their faith, emphasising that there is no religion of the State. The Constitution of India defines secularism by stressing on equality, with distinctions of race, religion, caste, culture, territory, faith, etc. ignored and with all persons belonging to different races, castes, religions, cultures, faith treated as one integral unit?the people of India.
The author very correctly points out that the Constitution ?could not even take any cognisance of a ?minority? based on religion or language of the people of India for any purpose whatsoever, not to speak of conferring any fundamental right on them to the exclusion of the rest. A ?minority? in a people, on any basis, presupposes a ?majority? on the same yardstick. This division of the people of India into two or more sections based on religion or language, gives credence and recognition to them as separate and distinct entities and thereby destroys and annihilates the very concept of ?the people of India?.?
Article 25 guarantees freedom of conscience and free propagation of religion to ?all persons? while as per Article 26, ?every religion-based denomination or any section thereof, has the right, inter alia, to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.? Thus every minority or majority religion can establish and maintain educational institutions. The author raises a pertinent question here: ?Where was then the need to grant the freedom to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice ONLY to minorities based on religion??
Hereafter the rights of administration including the rights of admission of students, employment and removal of teachers are analysed. Judgements of the Supreme Court on Article 30(1) are detailed and the impact of such judgements on education itself is brought out.
The Supreme Court itself is seized of the important task of what constitutes a minority and minority educational institutions and the latter´s administration. This apex court also upheld that Hinduism or Hindutva is not a religion which was given the name by Western scholars who did not know the meaning of dharma.
The second part of the book deals with the President´s powers and that of ministers, and that the State is to be ruled by the President and not the Central Government. The author expounds on the powers of the President in the appointment of judges, Governors and other constitutional functionaries. The author has concluded the book by expounding on a new method to curb the evil of defection, particularly with the emegence of ?hung? Parliament and rise in the number of political parties with relatively small strength, when some join the ministry and others promise ?support from outside?. It is considered absolutely necessary to shift the focus from defection to ?devise ways and means to ensure stability of the government in the present scenario of membership of the Lok Sabha.?
Here is a book which discusses the prime issues of cardinal importance to the nation, particularly a democratic one.
(Shri Prakashan, 242 Civil Lines, Hazari Pyao, Meerut, UP.)