In another blatant play of vote-bank politics, Congress supported the ‘minority institution’ claim for Aligarh Muslim University which denies right to reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs
Shri Mohammad Karim Chagla, the second Education Minister of Nehru Government and former Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court, stated in Parliament while introducing the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Amendment Bill that, “Aligarh Muslim University is neither established nor administered by the Muslim Community. It is an institution of National Importance and not a Minority Institution.” Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution of India rightly placed Aligarh University as Item 63 in the Union list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India along with RBI, Currency, Foreign Relations etc.
Since 1981, successive Congress Governments from Smt. Indira Gandhi onwards have played fraud on the Constitution of India on the one hand and on the other hand deprived the Dalits of their Constitutional and statutory rights in Aligarh Muslim University. Congress Governments acted in complete violation of the debates of the Constituent Assembly, Parliament of India and judgments of Hon’ble Courts in their miscarried attempt to appease the minority community.
In 1968, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held in the case of Aziz Basha & others vs. Union of India (Five judges bench judgment) that AMU was a national university and not a minority institution and the Government had the power to amend the Aligarh Muslim University Act of 1920.
The Aziz Basha Case
Parliament of India had passed two amendment bills to amend the AMU Act 1920. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister moved the AMU Amendment Bill in 1951 which provided that:
i. The Islamic education will not be compulsory for Muslim students
ii. AMU Court will not have only Muslims as members
In 1965, Mohammad Karim Chagla, the then Education Minister, also introduced amendment reducing the powers of AMU Court and from supreme governing body by making it an advisory body.
Aziz Basha and four other Muslims approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The issue before the Supreme Court was “Whether the Aligarh Muslim University was a minority institution under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India or not?” The articles provides with all minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice based on religion or language shall have the right. Hon’ble Supreme Court held that AMU was established by an Act passed by the Parliament namely, the AMU Act and not by the Muslims. Hence, it was not a minority institution. It further held that AMU was administered in accordance with the provisions of the AMU Act and hence it was not administered by Muslims.
The Fraudulent Amendment
Smt Indira Gandhi in 1981 brought an amendment in the AMU Act which stated that Aligarh Muslim University was established by the Muslims. On the basis of this amendment in 1989, the Aligarh University made a proposal to the President of India for approving reservation for Muslims which was struck down. In 2005, AMU again moved a proposal for granting 50% reservation in seats in post graduate courses to Muslims which was approved by the Congress Government headed by Smt Sonia Gandhi, and HRD Minister being Shri Arjun Singh. Justice Arun Tondon of Allahabad High Court struck down the reservation for Muslims stating that in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in Aziz Basha Case that AMU was not a minority institution and hence, reservation to Muslims cannot be provided. The UPA government supported the stand of AMU that it was a minority institution. Hon’ble Court also held that it was an attempt by the Government to negate the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and further held that the 1981 amendment merely declared it to be University established by Muslims without changing the historical background and circumstances under which AMU Act 1920 came into being.
Division Bench of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court consisting of Ajoy Nath Ray and Justice Ashok Bhushan upheld the Judgment of the Allahabad High Court and set aside the 1981 amendment. AMU and Union of India appealed to the Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein on the undertaking of the Aligarh Muslim University that they will not provide reservation to Muslims, direction was given for status quo to be maintained.
The present NDA Government has filed a new Affidavit withdrawing its appeal against the judgment of the Allahabad High Court and reiterated and affirmed the stand taken by the Union of India in Aziz Basha Case 1968 before the Hon’ble Supreme Court denying a minority institution status for AMU. It has also reiterated that AMU always a Central University which has been placed in the Union List as item 63 along with RBI, Currency, Army, Foreign Relations etc. It ios in consistent with the stand taken by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly that AMU, BHU and Delhi University are institutions of National Importance and should be kept in the Union List. Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admission) Act – 2006 provides that all Central Universities should provide reservation to Scheduled Caste (15%), Scheduled Tribes (7.5%) and Other Backward Classes (27%). Despite being a Central University and getting 100% grants from the Government of India, AMU has not complied with the provision wither in appointments or in reservations. Why do those crying over mistreatment of Dalit brethren, maintain a deafening silence on depriving the Dalits of their legal and Constitutional Rights in AMU?
Why does Congress not take a clear stand on AMU and officially states that reservation should be given to SCs, STs? Why do the Communists who talk for azadi for even the territories of India remain mum on reservation for Dalits in AMU. Let all parties clear their official stand on reservation for Dalit
community in AMU.
In the words of Shri Mohammad Karim Chagla: “Hon’ble member Shri Muzaffar Hussain has stated that by saying that AMU is not a minority institution and has not been established by the Muslim Community, Congress Party has earned the displeasure of Muslims and that the Muslims will not vote for the Congress Party. Let me ask him, who has made him the representative of 6 Crore Muslims in India? I am honoured to be a member of Congress Party which stands for certain ideals and principles which cannot be compromised.” Does any member of Congress, Communist or any other party have the courage to take such a stand today?
(The Writer is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court)