Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Editorial


SC Judgement and After


SC Judgement and After

The Supreme Court judgement on the minority educational institutions has to be hailed for several reasons. But it leaves a few areas for the state to fix up specific norms. In this, the role of the states will become important in determining the future shape of these institutions and assertion of the rights by minorities enshrined under article 30(1). While delivering the judgement, the apex court has been mainly guided by the concern that no harm comes to the two essential features of the Constitution namely, secularism and equality. Given this context, one cannot but appreciate the wisdom of the judges who were candid enough in laying down some broad features of the right. This shows through the distinction in the nature of admission pattern suggested in the aided and the unaided institutions. Clarity of thought is also transparent when the court says that the communities have unfettered right to set up institutions of their choice (and thereby need), but the right to administer is not without reasonable restrictions. The Government does have the right to regulate the recruitment etc.

All these are consonant with the broader state policy of being even-handed when it comes to state funding and ensuring social and economic justice. But by avoiding any exercise in laying down a quota (in specific percentage) as was done in St. Stephen’s case (1992), the court has wisely kept itself away from something that may neither be uniformly applicable nor acceptable across the states. In this, it has undone the injustice perceived to have been caused by the St. Stephen’s case wherein the state-funded, minority-run educational institutions were restrained from admitting more than 50 per cent students from their communities.

The court’s wisdom is also manifest from the fact that it has recognised the varying definitions of the term ‘minority’. Education being a state subject and the Article 30 being applicable to both linguistic and religious minorities, the question of minority educational rights had begged for the same over many long years. Some of the grotesque distortions had sneaked into the implementation of these rights in south Indian states where plethora of professional educational institutions had come up during the last two decades in as much as making a mockery of the minority rights. As a result of the SC ruling, the definition now comes attached with the question of domicile. It is now clear that an engineering college set up by the Telugu community in Karnataka will have to primarily benefit the Telugus native to Karnataka and not the ones from Andhra Pradesh.

This must strike at the tendency to indulge in profiteering by a good many professional colleges for whom Article 30 had become a convenient camouflage against flouting of norms and regulations. It had led to considerable dilution of the right and confusion in fixing the definition of the term minority. Some reflection of this could be available from Karnataka where according to the Minister for Education, 168 of the 189 professional colleges are run by the religious and linguistic minorities. And going by the Supreme Court judgement, 80 per cent of 2,400 medical seats, 86 per cent of the engineering seats and 98 per cent of the dental seats would fall out of the purview of the state control. This in one sense should serve as an eye-opener as to the extent to which the minority rights came to be exploited by unscrupulous educational entrepreneurs in lining their pocket. In fact, there is a need for insisting on minority professional colleges admitting at least 50 per cent students from their own community and from the state where they are located.

However, such are the diversities obtaining across the states and cosmopolitan cities that uncertainties would dog the state in implementing the ruling in toto. One could easily question as to why and how a Telugu medium school meant to educate Telugus in Chennai - even if it is state funded — should admit Tamil and Urdu students. Dynamics of language are certainly different from religion. It therefore calls upon the state to evolve regulations whereby ends of justice are met in giving a fair deal to minorities of whatever hue and denomination they might belong to.

Finally, a note of caution must be added as far as Muslim situation is concerned. The community has witnessed proliferation of professional colleges set up by entrepreneurs and NRIs rather than educationists or mass based educational societies. These need to be de-linked. State-funded professional colleges should insist on minority tag and a considerably large quota for Muslim students, while the ones based on capitation fee could be taken out of the purview of the minority-run colleges. The judgement makes it imperative for the community to go into the question of minority character afresh and evolve a policy on a state -to -state basis as much will depend on how the state governments implement the norms of admissions and state funding for minority schools and colleges.

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News| Community Roundup| Editorial| Readers Comments| Men, Machines and Methods| Globe Watch| Political Diary| Issues
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