What is the Jamia Millia’s minority status issue all about?
The minority status issue of Jamia Millia is in one word, issue of ‘constitutional rights’. Jamia Millia is by birth a minority institute in nature by all terms. But a declaration or certification has not been made approving it a minority educational institute. This constitutional right has been denied to the university since its inception.
What does a minority educational institution mean?
“Minority Educational Institutions“ means an Institution established and administered by the minorities under clause (1) of the Article 30 of the Constitution & so declared by an Act of Parliament or by the Central Government or declared as a minority educational institution under “The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act 2004”. (As in Section 2(f) of ‘The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006’)
What does the Indian Constitution Say of ‘minority Institutions’?
The constitution of India gives different rights and benefits to the Minorities of the country so that equal participation is ensured to all sections of the society. Section 30 (1) of the constitution says: “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
According to 20 (2) of the constitution: “The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”
Article 30 (1) is intended to instill confidence in minorities against any executive or legislative encroachment on their right to establish and administer educational institution of their choice.
What does the history of Jamia Millia say of its minority character?
JMI was established by the members of Muslim minority community in 1920 during the Khilafat and Non-cooperation movement. The main objective behind the establishment of Jamia Millia Islamia was “To promote and provide for the religious and secular education of Indians, particularly Muslims, in the Jamia Millia Islamia…” The JM1 Society was granted the status of a "Deemed University" in 1962 under UGC Act, 1956. The same JMI was formally incorporated as a Central University by an Act of Parliament known as Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988. The Act in sections 2(0) and 4(i), emphasizes, underlines and reiterates the predominant Muslim minority character of this Institution.
What are the benefits enjoyed by a minority educational institute?
It gives a privilege of reservation of a minimum of 50% to the concerned minority establishing the institute. Stipend/Scholarship and other such benefits may be allowed to students of such Institution as per Government norms. The Minority Educational Institution shall have all rights as granted under section 10 and 10A of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (Amendment) Act 2006.
What has the Government got to tell regarding the issue?
On 01.08.1997 the issue of minority status of this university was raised in the Rajya Sabha, the government has replied that: “As the question relating to grant of minority status to educational institutions, including universities, are currently subjudice before an 11- judge bench of the Supreme Court, a decision by the government on this issue is not possible at this stage.”
It was expected that the Central Govt, in view of the judgment on T.M.A. Pai Foundation Case would declare Jamia to be a minority educational institution. Unfortunately the Govt did not do so.
What understanding has the government made with the university authorities?
The reality is that the government has not cleared its stand regarding approval of minority status till date. The Ministry of HRD issued directive to the Jamia Millia Islamia to “take appropriate steps to admit students from Muslim Minority Community at least to the extent of 50%” which is applicable to minority institutes (D.O.No.F.-6-1/2006-Desk(U) dated 03.04.06 ).
Recently, a meeting of VCs of Central universities was held with Shri Arjun Singh, Hon’ble Minister of HRD on 14.05.2008. It was decided in the meeting that Jamia Millia Islamia shall not come within the purview of the recently notified reservation policy (27%) for OBCs on the basis of its unique historical character. (Ref.: AC-2008(III) Resolution I of JMI, Dated 15.05.08).
But, after a meeting of Prof. Mushir ul Hassan, VC - JMI, with Mr. Sunil Kumar, Joint Secretary MHRD, in the first week of July 2008, a letter dated 7.7.2008 was sent to the university (addressing the VC) by Joint Secretary MHRD suggesting, Jamia Administration to take necessary steps to implement reservation of 27% seats for OBCs in terms of the CEI Act 2006 and to approach UGC for additional requirements of funds for expansion of capacity in terms of the CEI Act 2006. But when the new prospectus of academic year 2009-2010 was released recently, the suggestion of 27% reservation to OBSs was fortunately not implemented.
The said letter dated 7.7.2008 has created doubts and confusions about the intentions of the Govt. and the MHRD. Impression is going in the minds of Muslim population that the Govt. and MHRD are working against the cause of Muslim community and minority status of Jamia Millia Islamia. It has become vivid and clear that unfortunately the Vice Chancellor, JMI and Mr. Sunil Kumar joint secretary MHRD have not taken steps in accordance with the spirit of the CEI Act 2006 and the decision of 14.05.2008.
Does getting aid from government deny the right to be a minority institute?
The minority educational institutions are property of that particular community, the members of which have established the institutions. The minority status of the institution is referred to a community and the community’s constitutional rights could not be taken away either by the state or by its functionaries merely by providing 100% fund in the form of aid/grant to such minority institution.
Article 20 (2) of the constitution clearly states: “The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”
Why is the issue raised now?
The Muslim backwardness in education is well known (especially after the tabling of the Sachhar Committee report). The government is talking about remedial measures such as opening of new educational institutions for Muslim minority. The minimum that the government can do, is to ensure that the minority status of the well known educational institutions established by Muslims, such as Jamia Millia Islamia, be clearly affirmed. Hopefully the Government will be taking right action for building the confidence of Muslim Community in India considering the fact that Jamia Millia Islamia was set up for improving educational standards of Muslims.
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