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Minority Status to Institutions UPSC NOTE

 What is minority status to institution

  • A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud is currently hearing the 57-year-long dispute over the minority character of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

  • Article 30(1) in Part III of the Constitution empowers all religious and linguistic minorities with a fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. 

  • Clause 2 ensures that the State maintains ‘equality of treatment’ in granting aid to all educational institutions, irrespective of their minority status. 

  • This includes educational institutions at all levels, from primary schools to professional education.

  • Notably, these institutions enjoy exemptions from the implementation of SC, ST, and OBC reservations in both admissions and employment.

  • Additionally, they can reserve up to 50% of seats for students from their community and exercise greater control over employees compared to other institutions. 

  • In the T.M.A Pai Foundation (2002) case, the SC clarified that a ‘minority’ is to be determined by the concerned State’s demography, not the national population.

Related provisions- Advantages of status

  • In 1877, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a Muslim reformer, founded the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO College) at Aligarh to address Muslim educational backwardness while protecting Islamic values

  • The Aligarh Muslim University Act, 1920 (AMU Act) was passed to incorporate the MAO college and the Muslim University Association into AMU.

  • In 1951, the AMU Act was amended, removing compulsory religious education for Muslims and the exclusive Muslim representation mandate in the University Court

  • The Act was further amended in 1965, and the powers of the Court were redistributed among other bodies including the executive, with the President of India nominating members to the governing body.

  • The legal dispute began in 1967 when the SC in S. Azeez Basha versus Union of India (UOI), reviewed the 1951 and 1965 amendments

  • The petitioners argued that since Muslims established AMU, they had the right to manage it.

  • However, a five-judge SC bench upheld the amendments, reasoning that AMU was neither established nor administered by the Muslim minority, highlighting the Act’s enactment through Central legislation

  • This ruling triggered nationwide protests, leading to the amendment of the AMU Act in 1981, affirming the university’s minority status. 

  • In 2005, AMU reserved 50% of postgraduate medical seats for Muslim candidates

  • The Allahabad High Court struck down the reservation policy in Dr Naresh Agarwal vs UOI (2005) holding the 1981 amendment ultra vires

  • Consequently, in 2006, the UOI and the University appealed to the SC

  • However, in 2016, the UOI withdrew from the appeal, refusing to acknowledge the University’s minority status

What is the dispute

  • The apex court is addressing two issues — the criteria for determining the minority status of an educational institution and whether an institution established under a statute can enjoy such status. 

  • While the petitioners argue that AMU is entitled to the minority status, the UOI is now endorsing the S. Azeez Basha verdict.

  • Sr. Adv. Rajeev Dhavan relied on the T.M.A Pai Foundation verdict to argue that statutory regulations or State aid, as given to AMU, do not deprive an educational institution of its minority character. 

  • It was argued that the Act of the legislature merely ‘incorporated’ the university as distinguished from its ‘establishment’ by the minority community under Article 30

  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that AMU was a ‘loyalist’ institution that had surrendered its rights to the British government and assumed a secular character with the 1920 Act. 

  • The CJI interjected that AMU’s political inclination does not affect its minority status

  • The judgment in this case will set a precedent impacting the rights and legal recognition of all minority institutions.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Minority Status to Institutions UPSC NOTE
Minority Status to Institutions UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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