The Allahabad High Court today rejected the Centre’s plea for restoring the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University and has scrapped its 50 per cent reservation for Muslim students.
It instead upheld a single bench’s October 4 judgment declaring the AMU to not be a minority institution and terming the 50 per cent quota illegal. A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice A N Ray and Justice Ashok Bhushan said today that granting the university the status of a minority institution would be “ultra vires to the Constitution”.
The bench also struck down Section L and Section 5(2)(C) of the Aligarh Muslim University Amendment Act, 1981 by which it was accorded minority institution status.
The court said admissions for the 2006-07 academic session “will be free to all”, but clarified that those students who have been admitted under the quota system and are studying at the AMU will continue to do so.
“We are shocked. A copy of the judgment is yet to reach us but the option of challenging today’s High Court judgment in the Supreme Court cannot be ruled out at this stage. This is the last resort for the AMU to seek legal redressal,” AMU Vice-Chancellor Naseem Ahmed said.
“The AMU had been working to promote members of the minority community on the educational and cultural front under Section 5(2)(C) of the AMU Act, 1920, but the High Court has rendered it ultra vires. The ball is also in the court of Parliament on the issue. This is all we can say… at this moment,” Ahmed said.
The appeal bench also refused to grant the AMU permission to file a special leave petition against the judgment before the Supreme Court saying they “do not find any reason for the same”.
The judges observed that the Supreme Court had in the 1968 Ajeez Basha case taken the view that the AMU was not a minority institution, and said the judgment could not be overridden by the enactment of a law by Parliament.
In October last year, Justice Arun Tandon had said the AMU Amendment Act was unconstitutional and the AMU was not a minority institution.
He said the notification issued by the Union Human Resource Development ministry on February 25, 2005 — allowing the AMU to reserve seats for Muslims in post-graduate medical courses — and the 50 per cent quota approved by the AMU academic council in the PG medical courses, was, therefore, “illegal”.
Vice-Chancellor Ahmed said the decision had not caused any anger since it had already been widely anticipated. In contrast, when Justice Tandon issued his October 5 order there had been violent protests on the campus.
Commenting on the ruling, senior lawyer Ravi Kiran Jain said: “The judgment in a nutshell means that the AMU which was so far virtually closed for non-Muslim students is open for every section of society.”
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