AMU’s minority status dispute explained

By Editorji News Desk
Published on | Jan 10, 2024

SC begins hearing of AMU's minority status

A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Jan 9 started hearing pleas against Aligarh Muslim University's minority character.

Centre to SC

During the hearing, Centre told the Supreme Court that AMU can't be a minority institution given its national character.

CJI 's remark

CJI DY Chandrachud said that the educational institution has to be secular. AMU can admit students from any community, without forcing them.

Minority status of an educational institution

Article 30 (1) of the Constitution empowers all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

Dispute over AMU

The legal dispute began in 1967 when the SC reviewed changes made to the AMU Act of 1920.

Changes to AMU Act

A provision that said only Muslims could be part of the University Court was removed, allowing non-Muslims to join.

Legal challenge to changes

Petitioners argued that Muslims established AMU and so had the right to manage it. SC said AMU was neither established nor administered by Muslims

1920 Act

As per 1920 Act, SC said that AMU was not solely operated by Muslims. Their administration was entrusted to Lord Rector and other statutory bodies.

1981 ruling

In 1981, SC questioned the validity of 1968 judgment that removed AMU's minority status. Later, it was reinstated via AMU Amendment Act.

2005 reservation policy

In 2005, AMU implemented a reservation policy, reserving 50% of seats in postgraduate medical courses for Muslim candidates.

Policy challenged

The reservation was challenged in the Allahabad High Court. It overturned the reservation and nullified the 1981 Act in the same year.

High Court's decision was contested

In 2006, the UPA-led central govt contested the High Court’s decision before the Supreme Court.

Appeal withdrawn by NDA

In 2016, NDA government withdrew appeal filed by UPA government and said, 'we can’t be seen setting up a minority institution in a secular state.'

3-judge Bench referred the matter to 7-judge Bench

On February 12, 2019, a three-judge Bench presided by the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to a seven-judge Bench.