In an earlier article, I had blogged about the evolution of the Cultural and Educational Rights of the Minorities in the Indian Constitution in the form of Articles 29 and 30. In that post, I had covered the modifications that the relevant Articles underwent from the time the first draft of the would-be Articles was prepared by the Minorities Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
However, the genesis for the two Articles lay in the Draft Constitution prepared by various members of the Constituent Assembly. Many members, including B N Rau, Harnam Singh, K T Shah and others had their own ‘Drafts’, which contributed to the development of the various parts of the Constitution that was eventually adopted.
One such Draft Constitution was prepared by K M Munshi, who was one of the key members of the Committee that drafted the Constitution of India. K M Munshi was also a key member of several sub-committees such as the Order of Business Committee and the Experts Committee.
In the draft prepared by K M Munshi, Article XII covered the Religious and Cultural Rights of Citizens. This Article had 11 sub-articles.
Sub-article 3 of this Article is what eventually evolved into Article 30(1) of our Constitution. The entire text of Article XII (3) is as below.
Article XII(3) of K M Munshi’s Draft Constitution of 1947
“3. Citizens belonging to national minorities in a State whether based on religion or language have equal rights with other citizens in forming, controlling and administering at their own expense charitable, religious and social institutions, schools and other educational establishments with the free use of their language and practice of their religion”
It is quite clear from the above text that the intention was to grant equal rights to all citizens irrespective of whether they belonged to the majority or the minority.
What is also interesting is that the wording of the above sub-article is extremely similar to articles in the Constitutions of several countries that were created by the Allied Powers immediately after the World War I. In fact, K M Munshi clearly indicated this to the Advisory Committee on April 22, 1947 that the minority rights contained in the Polish Treaty of 1919 was the basis for some of the minority related rights incorporated in the Draft Constitution.
The specific provision of minority rights in the Polish Treaty (and subsequently in the Polish Constitution) is as follows.
Article 8 of the Versailles Minorities Treaty of 1919
“Art. 8. Polish nationals who belong to racial, religious or linguistic minorities shall enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as the other Polish nationals. In particular they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense charitable, religious and social institutions, schools and other educational establishments, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their religion freely therein”
The similarity in the structure and language of the clauses in the Polish Treaty and K M Munshi’s Draft Constitution is obvious.
While the article in the Polish Treaty remained as-is, the sub-article in the Indian Draft Constitution underwent several modifications and became eventually what is today Article 30 – which grants more privileges to minorities, thus placing the majority on a lower pedestal with respect to educational rights.
- The Framing of India’s Constitution – A Study: B Shiva Rao and Others
- Pilgrimage to Freedom – Vol 1 – K M Munshi