Step against religion-based quota
THE RECENT decision of the Allahabad High Court regarding minority status of Aligarh Muslim University has made it quite clear that there cannot be reservation on the basis of religion. Two directives of the Division Bench, along with some relevant observations, have made the views of the court quite clear in this regard.india Updated: Jan 09, 2006 00:44 IST
THE RECENT decision of the Allahabad High Court regarding minority status of Aligarh Muslim University has made it quite clear that there cannot be reservation on the basis of religion.
Two directives of the Division Bench, along with some relevant observations, have made the views of the court quite clear in this regard.
The Division Bench, in its verdict, had directed that 50 per cent Muslim quota for postgraduate medical courses was declared unconstitutional and impermissible and “they (the AMU) shall make no claim of minority quota in like or other manner in future”.
Besides, the court set aside and quashed the Union Human Resource Development Ministry’s communication dated February 25, 2005, vetting the purported minority status of the AMU by permitting their claim of Muslim reservation.
The High Court categorically said, “The AMU was a free university and 50 per cent seats could be no more reserved for Muslims there than for Hindus in BHU. So, Parliament could not do it in 1980.”
Elaborating its stand, the court observed there was no Muslim reservation there in the last 85 years.
“The university was only in name a Muslim university. There were institutional reservations, but those are possible even for free institutions. The claiming of Muslim quota came for the first time for the postgraduate doctoral courses starting in the year 2005 and the gap is from 1920 to 2005.”
While striking down sections 2(1) and 5 (2) (c), which were inserted in AMU Act of 1920 by the AMU Amendment Act 1981, the court further elaborated its stand, adding, “We are of the opinion that if the university is free, which according to our judgement it is, these sub-sections cannot survive. It is flatly discriminatory. If a clause like this were to be introduced into the charters of the Banaras Hindu University, directing that it should promote especially the educational and cultural advancement of the Hindus in India, it would be discriminatory.”
To recall, the Supreme Court in Azeez Basha’s case (1968) had held that the AMU is not a minority institution as it has been set up by Central legislature. Later, an AMU amendment was passed by Parliament by simple legislation adding sections 2(1) and 5 (2) (c) allegedly restoring the minority status of the AMU.
After thoroughly analysing the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the court found that even Parliament was not empowered to permit AMU to begin a religion-based quota system.
“The university and its officials boldly put forward the Muslim reservation, which was incompetent even for Parliament to put forward in 1980. How has this power been purported to be assumed? Because of the 1981 Act and none other. So Parliament has given to a university a power to do something, which it was incompetent to do even by legislation; how has it given that power? It has given that power by simple legislation. If that legislation is valid, then it has succeeded in giving power beyond its own ordinary power as per the Constitution, to some other authority. This is absurd; the absurdity occurred because and only because Parliament has sought by a simple Act of Parliament to define a Constitutional institution and field,” the court elaborated.
The court said those admitted on the basis of Muslim quota policy will not be dislodged as “they have no fault of their own”. However, the court came down heavily on creators of this policy.
Lamenting the short-sightedness of those sitting at the helm of the AMU, the court said, “We cannot help saying that people in high positions should have thought a little more about the uncertainty they might be introducing in the career of students before they went ahead with a somewhat sudden claim of a Muslim minority quota.”