Nearly a year after India passed the landmark right to education law making schooling compulsory, influential madrasa administrators are preparing to resist it, maintaining the law is a threat to Muslim religious schools.
Seminary leaders from all sects will assemble in Delhi in July-end for consultations called by the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, the country’s largest cleric body. Some of their concerns may be valid, legal experts said.
“The Act recognizes only one type of school and only one type of education. It can be used to outlaw madrasas,” Mahmood Madni, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leader, told HT.
Former vice-rector of the Darul Uloom seminary, Qari Mohammed Usman, also termed the law an attempt to gain “backdoor entry” into madrasas.
“The right to education law could be shaky on two grounds,” said Faizan Mustafa, vice chancellor of National Law University, Cuttack. First, it is seen as violating the right to set up minority institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution. Second, it stipulates that parents should make up 75 per cent of a school’s administrators. This violates another constitutional guarantee that gives minority institutions a virtual free hand in running their affairs.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, aware of the brewing dissent, is said to be considering an amendment to the existing law.
Muslim clerics had squarely opposed efforts of the previous UPA regime to regulate madrasas, and direct them to teach secular subjects as well.
Madni, however, said the forthcoming meeting would address the issues of “evolving a consensus among clerics to introduce secular subjects voluntarily and also seek changes to protect madrasas”.