Constitutional Safeguards in India

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Constitutional Safeguards
 In India, the National Constitution of 1950 or any other Constitutional document does not define the word 'Minority'. The Constitution only refers to Minorities and speaks of those "based on religion or language". In the Constitution of India, the Preamble (as amended in 1976) declares the State to be "Secular", and this is of special relevance for the Religious Minorities. Equally relevant for them, especially, is the prefatory declaration of the Constitution in its Preamble that all citizens of India are to be secured "liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and "equality of status and of opportunity." The Constitution of India has provided two types of safe-guards -general and specific to safeguard various interests of the minorities. In the first category are those provisions that are equally enjoyed by both groups. The provisions ensure justice- social, economic and political equality to all. The second category consists of provisions meant specifically for the protection of particular interests of minorities. * people's right to "equality before the law" and "equal protection of the laws"; * prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth; * authority of State to make "any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens" (besides the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes); * citizens' right to "equality of opportunity" in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State - and prohibition in this regard of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. * Authority of State to make "any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State; * People's freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion - subject to public order, morality and other Fundamental Rights; * Authority of State to make law for "regulating or restricting any economic financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice", and for "providing for social welfare and reform"; * Authority of State to make laws for "throwing open" of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist "religious institutions of a public character to "all classes and sections of the respective communities; * Sikh community's right of "wearing and carrying of kirpans" ; * Right of "every religious denomination or any section thereof - subject to public order, morality and health - to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable proposes, "manage its own affairs of religion", and own and acquire movable immovable property and administer it "in accordance with law"; * People's "freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion"; * People's "freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions" wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State; * Right of "any section of the citizens" to conserve its "distinct language, script or culture" * Restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, "on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them"; * Right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice; and * Freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State.

Part IV of the Constitution of India, containing non-justifiable Directive Principles of State Policy, includes the following provisions having significant implications for the Minorities:

* Obligation of the State "to endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status,...
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