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Bill infringes on minority rights: Archbishop

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Archbishop Isaac Mar Cleemis, vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Council of India
Archbishop Isaac Mar Cleemis, vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Council of India

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

CBCI vice-president calls for `fruitful' dialogue

PATHANAMTHITTA: Archbishop Isaac Mar Cleemis, vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), said there was every reason to suspect a hidden agenda in the inclusion of certain clauses in the Kerala Professional Colleges Act that "outrightly denied the rights of the minority communities as guaranteed under the Constitution."

Talking to The Hindu , the Archbishop said some clauses in the Act would only serve to create a social divide between the members of the majority and the minority communities in the State.

The CBCI leader said the "Churches in the State were concerned over the protection of the very minority status of the communities in the backdrop of the new Act."

He said the Government had failed to take the minority communities into confidence before enacting the legislation, adding that it did not make a serious or sincere attempt to discuss the Bill with the minority community leaders before introducing it in the Assembly.

The Archbishop called upon the Government to sort out the issues amicably through fruitful dialogues in the larger interests of the State and society as a whole.

The CBCI vice-president said the makers of the Constitution had incorporated the special provisions detailing the rights of the minority communities with a view to bringing them into the mainstream of society, thus reflecting the rich Indian cultural heritage and tradition.

Archbishop Cleemis alleged that the Bill was drafted by sidelining the very meaning and definition of `self-financing' institution. The enactment of such a legislation, overlooking the legitimate right of the minority communities to "establish educational institutions of their choice in different parts of the country," was a matter of serious concern to the minorities in the State, he said.

"Certain political quarters have even criticised the Church for moving Court challenging the new Act. They should know that the people approach the judiciary seeking justice, when they are denied of their legitimate rights and protection," he said.

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