Protection of Interests of Minorities

Published On: 5th February, 2024

Authored By: Tejas B
BMS College of Law


This article aims to explore the constitutional provisions in India for the protection of minority interests by analyzing relevant court cases and discussing the scope of minority protection in the country. The Indian Constitution includes fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy for minorities as well as established institutions such as the National Commission for Minorities. This article highlights the ongoing commitment to inclusivity and pluralism. Despite constitutional guarantees, challenges persist, necessitating a comprehensive approach to address issues such as communal tension and socio-economic disparities. As India navigates its path towards progress, the protection of minority interests remains a crucial facet of its commitment to unity in diversity.


  • Any group of Indian citizens living in any region and possessing a unique language, script, or culture is entitled, under Article 23[1], “to conserve the same.” Thus, a portion of the population’s language, script, or culture is safeguarded by this constitutional clause. To invoke Article 29[1], all that is essential is that a section of the citizens, residing in India should have a distinct language, script, or culture of its own. If so, they will have the right “to conserve the same”.[1]
  • Despite mentioning minorities’ interests in the article’s marginal note, Article 29[1] does not refer to religion.[2]
  • According to Article 29[2], admission is not to be denied to any citizen into an educational institution maintained by the state, or receiving aid out of the state funds, solely based on caste, religion, race, or any of them. This provision guarantees the rights of a citizen as an individual irrespective of the community to which he belongs.


  • By section 123[3] of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, an appeal by a candidate to vote, or refrain from voting, for a person on the ground of language is made a corrupt practice. In Jagdev Singh v Pratap Singh[3], the Supreme Court has emphasized that this clause must be read subject to Article 29[1], for it could not be construed to trespass upon the Fundamental Right in question.
  • The right “to agitate for the protection of the language” is contained in Article 29[1]. Making promises by a candidate to work for the conservation of the electorate’s language does not amount to a corrupt practice. This Article is not subject to any reasonable restrictions. The right conferred upon the citizens to conserve their language, etc. is made absolute by the Constitution.


  • The benefit of this Article is not confined to minority groups but extends to all citizens whether belonging to majority or minority groups in the matter of admission to the educational institutions maintained or aided by the state. This article is broad and unified. It confers a special right on all citizens for admission into the state-maintained or aided educational institution.
  • To enforce the restrictions laid down in Article 29[2], a High Court can issue a writ under Article 226 even against a private institution receiving aid from the state cannot discriminate on the grounds of religion, caste, etc.[4]
  • However Article 29[2] does not create an absolute right for citizens to be admitted into any educational institution maintained by the state or receiving aid out of state funds in that it does not “only” also suggest that if it is found that the denial of admission by any educational institution maintained by the state or receiving aid out of State funds is not merely on any of the prohibited grounds but also on some additional grounds, not being irrelevant or fanciful, the mandate of clause[2] of this Article is not violated.[5]


  • The question of the Article first arose from the case of State of Madras v Champakam.[6] The communal GO of the State of Madras allotted seats in medical and engineering colleges in the state proportionately of the several communities. A Brahmin candidate who could not be admitted to an engineering college challenged the GO as being inconsistent with Article 29[2].
  • The Supreme Court held that the classification in the GO was based on religion, race, and caste which was inconsistent with Article 29[2], the only reason for the denial of his admission was he was a Brahmin.
  • Dividing the state into two religions, and then allocating seats in engineering and medical colleges in the states between religions does not violate Article 29[2].

ARTICLE 29[2] AND 15[1]

  • Article 15 prohibits discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion, etc. but the scope of the two articles is significantly different. First off, while Article 29(2) protects the state and anybody who refuses a citizen’s right granted by it, article 15(1) protects all citizens against the state.[7]
  • Further, while Article 15[1] protects all citizens against discrimination generally in all matters, Article 29[2] gives protection against only a particular species of wrong, namely, denial of admissions into a state or an educational institution.

ARTICLE 15[4] AND 29[2]

  • Article 15[4] was added by the First Amendment of the Constitution after the Champakam case to ensure the advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, or the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • A provision to be valid under Article 15[4] is to be for the advancement of the backward classes and not for abridging their rights under any other provision of the Constitution.
  • Any reservation of seats in an educational institution is not justified under Article 15[4] and cannot be valid. The kind of communal reservation invalidated in the Champakam case would still not be valid under Article 15[4] as the reservation was based on religion.

ARTICLE 15[5] AND 29[2]

  • Article 15[5] empowers the State to make special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes insofar as their special provision relates to their admission to the educational institution including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State.
  • This provision was introduced to ensure that these marginalized sections of society gain access to education and so to promote equality of opportunity. It does not, however, apply to minority-run educational institutions, which are guaranteed by the constitution the freedom to create and run any kind of school they choose.[8]


In conclusion, the Indian Constitution includes several fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy for the protection of minority communities in India. Suggestions for future legislative reforms include the implementation of strict guidelines for specific affirmative action policies and the reduction of the scope of discrimination in the country. It is highly essential that the government engages in a more widespread discourse with minority communities and involves them in policy-formulation processes to ensure that their interests are adequately represented.


[1] Article 23[1] of the Indian Constitution

[2] Per Kripal Cj TMA Pai Foundation v State of Karnataka, [2002] 8 SCC 481.

[3] Jagdev Singh v Pratap Singh, AIR 1965 SC 183

[4] Ranveet Kaur v Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, AIR 1998

[5]Indian Constitutional Law, Eight Edition by M P Jain.

[6] State of Madras v Champakam, AIR 1951 SC 226:

[7] Shivhare V, ‘Minority Rights – The Judicial Approach’ (legalserviceIndia) <> accessed 21 December 2023

[8] L, ‘Article 15 of the Constitution of India’ (LawBhoomi, 26 March 2023) <,private%20educational%20institutions,%20aided%20or> accessed 22 December 2023

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