Not in Favour of Minority Tag for AMU: Modi Govt
But seeks time to withdraw appeal filed during UPA for retaining such status
Our Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The Modi government has told the Supreme Court that it does not support minority status for Aligarh Muslim University but sought time to withdraw an appeal the Centre filed when the UPA government was in power for retaining such status for AMU. The Supreme Court was hearing appeals of the university and the Centre against an Allahabad high court ruling that AMU was a central university and not a minority institution.
A parliamentary legislation in 1981 had bestowed minority status on AMU. A minority institution can reserve more than 50% seats for the community that has set up the institution. If AMU is stripped of the status, it would also allow the government to have a say in its functioning.
Appearing for the Centre, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told a three-judge bench of Justice JS Khehar on Monday: “AMU is a central university established by a central act. We have taken a conscious decision that AMU is not a minority institution.” He, however, sought time to file an application withdrawing the appeal and the cour t g ranted him eight weeks and AMU four weeks to respond to the government’s stand. Three intervention applications were also filed on behalf of the former AMU students in support of the AMU claim for a minority tag. The AG suggested that the issue may well have to be referred to a seven-judge bench eventually, but the court said it would take a call at the next hearing.
In another case, in which the high court decision to lay off the appointment of the AMU v i c e - c h a n c e l l o r was c h a l - l e n g e d , Chi e f Ju s t i c e T S Thakur asked whether a university could claim minority status under the Constitution. He said this when the vicechancellor’s lawyer cited the varsity’s minority tag to defend its autonomy in appointments.
“A college or an educational institution, yes, but can a university be minority,” the CJI wondered, as the V-C through senior advocate Salman Khurshid argued that UGC guidelines on appointments or qualifications would not apply to AMU. The CJI then sought the Modi government’s stand on the issue.
Supreme Court grants Rohatgi eight weeks and AMU four weeks to respond to the govt’s stand