Today, a 7-judge bench of the Supreme Court had the 3rd day of hearing of the case relating to the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Surya Kant, JB Pardiwala, Dipankar Datta, Manoj Misra, and Satish Chandra Sharma heard the issue. The Sc held that now it will continue the matter on 23rd January 2024.
The Supreme Court of India is currently reviewing a 1967 ruling stating that Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is not a minority institution. The case, stemming from an appeal against the 2006 Allahabad High Court decision, involves the central government’s attempt to overturn the 1967 Basha verdict through amendments to the AMU Act in 1981. A 7-judge bench, led by CJI Chandrachud, is overseeing the case. The Centre contends that AMU, given its national character, cannot be considered a minority institution. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta presented the Centre’s written submissions before the Constitution Bench, addressing the validity of the 1968 verdict that revoked AMU’s minority status. The court is deliberating on legal aspects related to granting minority status to an educational institution under Article 30 and whether a centrally funded university established by parliamentary statute can be designated as a minority institution.
What is Article 30 of the Indian Constitution?
Article 30 discusses the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. This right is given to minorities to form and govern their own educational institutions. It is also called the ‘Charter of Education Rights’.
Article 30(1): All religious and linguistic minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Article 30(2): The State shall not, when 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.
In 1877, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, founded the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO College) at Aligarh. Through this institution, he sought to popularize modern
British education among Muslim society while carefully balancing and protecting Islamic values and principles. Despite being an institute for persons of the Islamic faith, MAO College was open to other communities as well.
On 14 September 1920, the Aligarh Muslim University Act, 1920 (AMU Act) was passed to incorporate the MAO College and another Muslim University Association into a single University named the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
In 1951, the AMU Act was amended to do away with the compulsory religious education provided to Muslim students by the University.
Petitioners in S. Azeez Basha and Anr v Union of India (1967) argued that the amendment violated their right to establish and administer educational institutions under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India.
On 20 October 1967, a five-judge bench held that no fundamental rights of the petitioners were violated and upheld the amendment.
On 12 February 2019, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna referred the decision in S. Azeez Basha for reconsideration by a seven-judge bench.
On 12 October 2023, the matter was listed before CJI D.Y. Chandrachud who constituted a seven-judge including himself, and Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Surya Kant, JB Pardiwala, Dipankar Datta, Manoj Misra, and Satish Chandra Sharma bench to hear the matter.
CJI in today’s hearing remarked that, “CJI: the object of article 30 and do not take it otherwise is not to ghettoize the minorities, so if you let other people associate with your institution, it doesn’t detract from your character as a minority institution.”
Case Name- Aligarh Muslim University through its registrar Faizan Mustufa V. Naresh Agarwal.
Anshra Zafar, a 2nd year B.A.LLB student at IILM University, Greater Noida, 4th Semester, an intern under Legal Vidhiya.
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