Minority Institution Issue

  • Government decided that it does not agree Jamia as a ‘minority’ institution.
  • Center replied Delhi High Court that it does not back an order by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) that had declared Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) as a religious minority institution (six years ago).
  • According to NCMEI – “Jamia was established by the Muslims for the advantage of Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution”
  • An order in the past led JMI to scrap reservations for SC/ST and OBC students and set aside half the seats in each course for Muslims.
  • After the order was challenged in court, the previous UPA government submitted an affidavit saying it “respects the declaration made by NCMEI”.
  • On the advise of then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the NDA government, under HRD Ministry under Smriti Irani entitled to change the government’s view and took a stance that JMI is not a minority institution.
What is a minority educational institution?
  • A minority educational institution is one that has been set up by either a linguistic or a religious minority group.
  • Objective: To keep alive and foster what it considers its unique and special features.
Does the Constitution provide for minority educational institutions?
  • Fundamental Rights, Part III, openly provides for the right.
  • Article 30, titled “Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions”, says:
    • “(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
    • (1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause
    • (2) 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 or language.”
  • Article 29, “Protection of interests of minorities”, says:
    • “(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.”
  • But isn’t there a conflict between the fundamental principle of equality and the special rights conferred on these groups by the Constitution?
  • Article 30(1) could seem to be in contradiction to Article 29(2), which says, “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.”
  • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), also has been in the courts for decades over the same issue.
  • The university contends that it was set up by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan principally for minority uplift, and therefore, it has to be seen to have a minority personality.
  • JMI, ironically, was created almost as the anti-thesis to Aligarh, when a group of scholars “walked out” of the AMU campus to set up Jamia in Delhi in the nationalist tradition, under Mahatma Gandhi’s influence and patronage.



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