Minority tag of AMU: SC allows varsity to file reply

New Delhi:The Supreme Court today granted four weeks to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to file its response on Centre’s affidavit seeking withdrawal of appeal filed by the erstwhile UPA government, challenging Allahabad High Court’s verdict holding that the varsity was not a minority institution.

A bench headed by Justice J S Khehar permitted the university to file its reply to the Centre’s affidavit after senior advocate P P Rao, appearing for the varsity, sought some time to file the response.

“Counsel for University seeks time to file its reply to the affidavit filed by Union of India. Time granted. Reply to be filed within four weeks,” the bench said.

The Centre had last week told the apex court that it will withdraw its appeal challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict. Besides the Centre, the varsity administration had also filed a separate plea against the High Court verdict on the issue.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had said that “AMU is not a minority institution” and referred to an apex court verdict of 1967 saying that it was not a minority institution as it was set up the government and not by Muslims.

Earlier too, the top law officer had told the apex court that AMU was set up by a central act and moreover a five-judge Constitution bench in 1967 in the Aziz Basha case had held that it was a “central university” and not a minority institution.

Rohatgi had said that to circumvent the effect of the judgement, an amendment was brought in 1981 in the central act to accord minority status to the university which has recently been held as unconstitutional by the High Court.

“You cannot override the Aziz Basha judgement. Union of India’s stand is that according minority status to AMU would be contrary to the Aziz Basha judgement and it still holds good,” the top law officer had submitted before the bench in April which had permitted the Centre to file an application and an affidavit within eight weeks to withdraw the appeal filed by it.

Filing an affidavit, Rohtagi has said, “We go by the Aziz Basha judgement and therefore we are going to withdraw the appeal” made by the erstwhile UPA government.

The Allahabad High Court had in January 2006 struck down the provision of the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981 by which the University was accorded minority status.