The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has written to the HRD Ministry asking why the government continues to fund Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), even though it doesn’t implement the reservation policy the way other central universities do.
The Commission has also sought year-wise details of the annual grants released by the government to AMU, right from its establishment until 2018-19, sources told The Sunday Express.
The government received the letters, dated July 6 and July 10, after NCSC chairman Ram Shankar Katheria held a meeting with officers of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the HRD Ministry on July 2.
In this meeting, the government representatives informed Katheria about the HRD Ministry new position on AMU’s minority character.
Reversing the stand taken under the UPA government, the ministry has withdrawn its support for the university’s minority status by filing a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on June 30, 2016, and telling the court that AMU was never intended to be a minority institution as it was set up by an Act of Parliament and is funded by the Central government.
Referring to this, the NCSC missive, dated July 6, states, “If no reservation was being granted by AMU, (what was the) reason for release of the annual maintenance to AMU by MHRD.” On July 10, the Commission sought year-wise funding details of AMU within ten days.
The controversy over the university’s minority status was revived after the Uttar Pradesh SC/ST Commission sent AMU a notice, asking why it has not provided quotas for SC and STs despite receiving grants from the Union government and making faculty appointments as a national university.
In an interview to The Indian Express this week, Katheria had said that NCSC would order AMU to implement the reservation unless the university can produce documents by August to prove its minority status. “This is not Pakistan, the university has to follow the rules,” Katheria, BJP MP from Agra and former Union minister, had said.
According to the him, AMU has close to 30,000 students and 15 per cent of these seats should have gone to SC students and 7.5 per cent to STs. “If AMU fails to provide the documents, it will have to admit 4,500 Dalit students and 2,250 tribal students,” Katheria added.
Citing the 1981 amendment to the AMU Act, the university authorities have opposed the Centre’s stand. Section 2 (1) of the law was changed to define university as “The educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India, which originated as the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh, and which was subsequently incorporated as AMU.”
It is on the basis of the above provision that the UPA-I government had written to the UGC on March 13, 2007 stating that it recognises AMU as a religious minority institution. This letter now stands withdrawn after the HRD ministry filed a revised affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2016 opposing AMU’s minority character.