Are Christian-run educational institutions minority in Meghalaya ?
Prof Batskhem Myrboh
Being committed to the ideal of pluralism of the Indian society, the framers of the Indian Constitution of India were conscious of the need for the protection of the rights and privileges of the minority communities. Accordingly, the Constitution of India under Article 30 provides for the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. According to Clause (1) of Article 30, “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” In Clause (2) of the same Article it is provided, “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.”
In spite of the existence of the above provisions, nowhere in the Constitution was the term “minority” defined. It was in 1992 that the term minority was defined officially by section 2(c) of The National Commission for Minority Act, 1992 (NCMA) wherein it is stated “Minority for the purposes of this Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government;”. To give effect to the above provision of the NCMA and in exercise of the powers conferred by it, the Central Government notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as “the Minority communities” for the purposes of the said Act vide notification SO No. 818 (E), F.No. l/ 11 /93-MC (1)) dated 23.10.1993.
In early 2005, the Indian Parliament enacted the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 (NCMEI Act) which provides for the establishment of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI). One of the functions of the NCMEI, according to section 11(f) of the NCMEI Act, is to “decide all questions relating to the status of any institution as a Minority Educational Institution and declare its status as such;” However, while determining the status of any institutions as a Minority Educational Institution, the Commission is guided by Section 2(g) of the NCMEI Act as it defines a Minority Educational Institution. Section 2(g) states “Minority Educational Institution means a college or institution (other than a University) established or maintained by a person or group of persons from amongst the minorities”
Para 3 of the Guidelines for determination of Minority Status, Recognition, Affiliation and related matters in respect of Minority Educational Institutions under the Constitution of India states, “It has been held by the Eleven Judges Bench of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation vs. State of Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481 that a minority, whether linguistic or religious, is determinable only by reference to demography of the State and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole. (To be contd)