(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
Article 23, Draft Constitution of India, 1948
(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script and culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
(2) No minority whether based on religion, community or language shall be discriminated against in regard to the admission of any person belonging to such minority into any educational institution maintained by the State.
(3) (a) All minorities whether based on religion, community or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
(b) 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, community or language.
Draft Article 23 was debated in the Constituent Assembly on 7th and 8th December 1948. It aimed at securing and protecting the cultural and educational rights of minorities. During the course of the discussions, the Constituent Assembly decided to split this Draft Article into 2: clauses 1 and 2 remained Article 23, and clause 3 became Draft Article 23A. In this summary, we deal with only Article 23 proper.
It was proposed that after ‘conserve’ the word ‘develop’ be added. The rationale behind this was that culture was not static, it was dynamic and progressive – and the draft article had to reflect this. Another member argued that the Article should confine the scope of minorities to only linguistic ones; the recognition of religion and community-based minorities could promote communalism. It seems like the Assembly did not want to limit minorities to just linguistic minorities; it accepted a proposal to specify the types of minorities in the clause 2 – that included religion, race, caste and language.
It was also argued that the Article should be read as applying to those sections of the population who find themselves as a linguistic minority in a particular state. For e.g. The Article then must protect the right of the Bengali community settled in Andhra Pradesh to maintain its language and culture.
The Assembly adopted the Article with amendments.