Despite being a minority institution as per the AMU Act 1981, the university does not have quota for Muslims or other minorities, can’t have one for Dalits or Tribes either.
GHAZANFAR ABBAS | Caravan Daily
ALIGARH/ NEW DELHI: Since Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath demanded reservation for Dalits in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) last week, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and its state counterpart have issued notices to the university seeking explanation about why it does not give reservation to the SC (Dalits) and ST (Tribes) communities; when it is not a “Minority Institution”, it is bound to implement the reservation policy like other universities.
The university has given a clear and plain reply to both commissions: Since its inception, AMU has not given any kind of quota to any community; It has only one quota that is for its internal students and that is without any discrimination of caste or creed.
In a telephonic interview to Caravan Daily, Omer Peerzada, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of AMU said: “In 1981, the Parliament of India passed ‘AMU Amendment Act’. According to the law, the university was established by the Muslims of India for the cultural, educational and economic development of Muslims. Since 1920 when it was established as a university, AMU has not given any kind of reservation on the ground of religious, regional or linguistic minorities. AMU gives only one reservation and that is for internal candidates.”
“AMU gives 50% reservation to its internal students regardless of their religion, caste and region,” clarified Peerzada.
On the notice issued by SC/ST commission, he said that the status quo of AMU as a minority institution will remain same till the Supreme Court of India does not deliver its final judgment in a case related to its minority character.
“The matter is subjudiced in the Supreme Court. No constitutional body can interfere in this situation. It amounts to challenging the wisdom of the court. Let the court decide,” he said.
The minority status enjoyed by the university since 1981 was challenged by some groups in the Allahabad High Court, which, in 2005, ruled that the 1981 AMU Act was against the Constitution, hence AMU was not a minority institution. The university challenged the order in the Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the Allahabad HC decision, So effectively, AMU has remained a minority institution till date.
Before the state’s commission, National Commission for SC/ST had also asked AMU as to why it was not reserving the seats for SC/ST saying that a central university is bound to give constitutional reservations (SCs and STs enjoy quota as constitutional provisions).
Saying that AMU is open to respond to any question pertaining any legitimate body within the “legal framework”, Peerzada said, “We will see that whether the commission’s concern is legitimate.”
However, he made it clear that “AMU is being governed by AMU Act 1981 which has granted minority status to it and the minority institutions are exempted by the Article 15 (5) from implementing constitutional reservations.”
Article 30(1) of the Constitution gives all religious and linguistic minorities the right to set up and run educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities. The law guarantees that governments will not discriminate in giving aid on the basis of their being ‘minority’ institutions, thus sealing in a commitment by the Government of India to allow minorities to flourish.
In 1877, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, alumnus of Cambridge University and towering educationist and reformer of his time, had founded the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh. In 1920, the college was transformed into a full-flagged University.
BJP eying AMU, Jamia Millia for long
Both AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia have been on the hit list of BJP. On and off, the party and its leaders have been raking controversy around the two prestigious minority institutions of the country.
In January 2016, the BJP-led central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the affidavit filed by the previous Congress-led UPA government in the AMU case in the Supreme Court. The Modi government stated that AMU was not a minority institution as it was set up by the Parliament. The case is still pending.
Jamia Millia was granted minority status in February 2011 by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI). The order was challenged in the Delhi High Court. The then HRD Ministry, under Congress leader Kapil Sibal, had filed affidavit in the court in August 2011 supporting the NCMEI decision. But like in the case of AMU, the Modi government changed the previous government affidavit and opposed the minority status to Jamia Millia. The case is still pending in the Delhi High Court.