New Delhi: The AMU’s minority status has landed the university in hot water as the dispute over the status supported by UPA government was challenged before the SC by BJP led parliamentarian who argued removing the status would benefit Dalits, SCs.
The suggestion came in a letter to the higher education department early this month from Pritam Singh, secretary to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, headed by MP Ram Shankar Katheria, The Telegraph reports.
While teachers are of the opinion that commission is invoking the Dalit interests for their personal political interest ahead of upcoming general elections.
However, the HRD ministry has written to the commission dismissing the claims made by teachers, saying it does not need to bring in the quota angle since the 1967 apex court judgment on which it has based its stand is strong enough.
The AMU currently functioning as a minority institute does not have to implement caste quotas but the removal of the minority status will force it to.
AMU was previously known as the Muhammadan Ango-Oriental College founded by philanthropist Syed Ahmed Khan in 1875 mainly to promote Muslim education. It became AMU in 1920 after a preamble was passed to make it a university.
The preamble did not say label AMU as a minority institution but some of its provisions, such as compulsory religious teaching and a Muslims-only court (its highest decision-making body), indicated its minority character.
But after the Constitution was adopted in India, the act was further amended to make religious teaching optional and revoke the university court’s all-Muslim membership rule sources claimed.
The apex court in the year 1967 acting on a petition filed by Azeez Basha held that since the university was set up by an act rather than by Muslims, it’s not a minority institution.
While in the year 1981, the Indira Gandhi government had amended the act and deleted the “established” from the preamble and added that an institution established by Muslims had later been incorporated as AMU.
Allahabad High Court quashed the amendment in 2006, prompting an appeal to the apex court.