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AMU Old Boys to mount pressure on Centre

A CONSULTATIVE committee of the Old Boys of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has decided to mount pressure on the Congress-led UPA Government for quickly moving the Supreme Court against the High Court judgement quashing the minority character of the institution. The committee also plans to hold a conference of Muslim bodies and non-BJP political parties next month to chalk out an action plan in this connection.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 00:57 IST

A CONSULTATIVE committee of the Old Boys of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has decided to mount pressure on the Congress-led UPA Government for quickly moving the Supreme Court against the High Court judgement quashing the minority character of the institution.

The committee also plans to hold a conference of Muslim bodies and non-BJP political parties next month to chalk out an action plan in this connection.

Talking to newspersons, All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) member and senior lawyer Zafaryab Jilani said apart from moving the apex court, the Central Government should also legally examine the issue for fresh legislation in Parliament.

Jilani said resentment was brewing among students and other staff members on the university campus and if there was a delay in solution, the crisis could deepen.

“We don’t want people to hit the streets,” Jilani warned.

He said Parliament could solve the problem either by further amending the AMU Act 1920 or by an amendment to Article 30 of the Constitution.

The community would put political pressure on the Centre for restoration of the minority character to the university, he added.

AMU Students’ Union vice-president Malik Fazle Rab and secretary Farrukh Khan said they had contacted the unions of other universities in this connection.

In fact, the judgement pronounced by a two-member High Court bench, consisting of Chief Justice AN Ray and Justice Ashok Bhushan, on January 5 has taken the AMU back to 1965, when an amendment in the AMU Act 1920 had deprived it of the status of a minority institution. The two-member bench, in its order, had concurred with the October 4, 2005 decision of a single-member bench headed by Justice Arun Tandon.

The controversy started with Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh issuing an order in February 2005, granting 50 per cent reservation to Muslim medicos. Despite protests on the campus by a section of faculty members, the university rushed to implement the “quota”. Thereafter, a petition was moved in July 2005 in the High Court, challenging reservation on religious grounds. The court of Justice Tandon not only quashed the government order, but also declared the AMU (Amendment) Act 1981 null and void.

In 1968, the Supreme Court in the Azeez Basha case had upheld the 1965 amendment to the AMU Act 1920.

However, during the Indira Gandhi regime, Parliament once again amended the Act in 1981 to underline the minority character of the university, which was then defined as “the educational institute of their choice established by Muslims of India”.

The amendment also enabled the university “to promote especially the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims of India”. However, the amendment never intended to provide communal quota, as section 8 of the amendment said “the university shall be open to all persons (irrespective) of sex and whatever race, religion, creed or class”. The university’s admission policy was thus not communally affected.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 00:57 IST