Members of Parliament from eight parties — Congress, TMC, JD(U), RJD, NCP, CPM, CPI and AAP — got together on Friday to take on the Centre for its “sinister move” to strip Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia of their minority status. They also decided to launch a signature campaign and petition President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue and take it up in Parliament during the upcoming Budget session.
Signatories to the joint statement were Pramod Tiwari of Congress, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy of TMC, K C Tyagi of JD-U, Ritabrata Banerjee of CPM, D Raja of CPI, D P Tripathi of NCP, Jay Prakash Yadav of RJD and Bhagwant Singh Mann of AAP.
The MPs said in a joint statement: “We condemn the statement of the Attorney-General of India (Mukul Rohatgi), who has blatantly tried to outrage the rich tradition of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb by mentioning before the Supreme Court that these two institutions are not minority institutions.”
Rohatgi had maintained in the apex court that Jamia was not a minority institution, as it had been created by an Act of Parliament. He had said an executive government could not be seen setting up a minority institution in a secular state.
He had maintained in an opinion given to the HRD Ministry that the legislature never intended AMU to be a minority institution. He had apparently relied on a 1967 Supreme Court judgment which had said that AMU was technically not a minority institution and the same principle, according to him, applied to Jamia.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions had declared Jamia a religious minority institution some years ago. Thereafter, Jamia had discontinued reservations for students belonging to SC, ST and OBC categories and earmarked 50 per cent seats in every course for Muslim candidates.
The MPs said the A-G had tried to undermine Parliament by making a “flimsy” claim that the legislature never intended AMU and Jamia to be minority institutions.