The apex minority education watchdog, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, on Tuesday declared Jamia Millia Islamia a minority university — a status with wide academic and political implications, as it allows the varsity to reserve 50% seats for Muslims.
Jamia can now scrap the 22.5% scheduled castes and scheduled tribes quota it has had to implement as a non-minority central university. It will also not have to follow the 27% OBC quota norm that central universities adhere to.
The varsity now does not need to follow government regulations except those relating to standards of education. Article 30 of the Constitution allows minorities to establish and administer educational institutions without interference. Human resource development ministry officials told HT that the government would not appeal against the NCMEI order.
Jamia vice-chancellor Najeeb Jung and the Jamia Teachers Association and Old Boys Association — petitioners who had approached the NCMEI — asserted that the university would retain its secular character in its new avatar.
Jung said, "Suggestions that a minority institution cannot be secular pain me. What today's judgment does is place greater responsibility on the Jamia administration to ensure that we meet expectations."
Incidentally, his predecessor, Mushirul Hasan, was opposed to the minority status, arguing that the standards of the university would deteriorate.
The divide over Jamia extended partly to the Muslim community and even to the government. While minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid aggressively pushed for the status, HRD minister Kapil Sibal advised waiting for a Supreme Court judgment on the status to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
The NCMEI, however, decided that Jamia — set up in 1920 and became a central university through an Act of Parliament in 1988 — could not be compared to AMU, which became a university through legislation.