The central government appears set to cancel the minority status of two top Muslim universities of the country — Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia university.
A letter to HRD Minister Smriti Irani by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot indicates that the HRD Ministry has already spelt out a set of reasons for removing the minority status of these universities.
In his letter dated January 18, accessed by The Indian Express, Gehlot thanked Irani for clarifying the government’s stand on these institutions. “The clarification that you have given regarding Jamia Millia University and Aligarh Muslim University that they don’t have minority status but are central universities, I want to thank you for that,” Gehlot wrote.
“Your act is commendable because in the garb of their minority status, these institutions had begun rejecting reservation for SC/ST/OBC classes and other security-related provisions,” he added.
Gehlot also wrote that this “praiseworthy step will contribute towards the formation of an inclusive society”, and help implementing the “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” intention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Recently, reversing the UPA stand on the AMU, the government had told the Supreme Court that it was not in favour of according minority status to the institution. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court: “As the executive government at the Centre, we can’t be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state.”
The Law Ministry is also learnt to have given the advice that the government can withdraw its earlier support to the February 22, 2011 order of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) — it declared JMI a religious minority institution — on the ground that the university was established through a central legislation and was neither started nor run by the Muslim minority.
It was in pursuance of this 2011 order that the university discontinued reservation for SC/ST and OBC students and set aside half its seats in each course for Muslim candidates.
When the ruling was legally challenged, the HRD Ministry, under then minister Kapil Sibal, had submitted an affidavit in Delhi High Court stating that the government “respects” the declaration made by NCMEI.