The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to file its response to the Centre’s affidavit withdrawing the appeal filed by the earlier UPA government seeking a minority tag for the varsity.
“Counsel for the university seeks time to file its reply to the affidavit filed by Union of India. Time granted. Reply to be filed within four weeks,” a bench headed by Justice JS Kehar said after senior advocate PP Rao made the request on behalf of the university.
In its affidavit filed last week, the Narendra Modi government also withdrew all letters issued by the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) under the UPA regime allowing the AMU to reserve 50% of its seats for Muslims in the faculty of medicine.
“This letter along with any other letter issued from the MHRD supporting the minority status of the AMU may be treated as withdrawn,” read a government affidavit.
Once the government is allowed to take back its appeal, the Supreme Court will be left with the varsity’s appeal filed against the Allahabad high court verdict that struck down a parliamentary amendment granting minority status to the university.
The university’s identity has become a contentious political issue in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is seeking to project it as an example of Muslim appeasement at the cost of the rights of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes.
A formal abrogation of the minority status for the university by the courts could help the BJP in its outreach to SC/STs and OBCs in the state which goes to polls early next year.