Clouds over Minority Character of the AMU
The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is once again in the news for the wrong reasons. Attorney General Mr. Mukul Rohatgi through an affidavit in the Supreme Court has said that the University is not a minority institution. Coming as it does from the Attorney General, the affidavit reflects the changed stance of the Union Government. Though it is not unusual to expect this from the current dispensation at the Centre, sagacity demands that the community totally eschews any agitational approach to assert its right to run and administer the University.
It may be recalled that the minority character of the AMU had been ended by a Central Government ordinance in 1967 following some unpleasant incidents on the campus. The Minority character could be restored through an Act of Parliament in 1981 following a 16-year long struggle by the community. The Aligarh Muslim University Amendment Act had restored the AMU Court which effectively oversees the administration of the University. The Act’s clause 5(2)(C) had once again empowered the community to run the University in order to cater to the educational and cultural interests of the Muslims of India. Legal opinion suggests that the Act had over ruled the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Aziz Basha vs. Government of India case wherein the Parliament and not the community were recognized as the founder of the University.
The current affidavit stems from the Centre’s (changed) stance with regard to the Allahabad High Court judgment in 2005. The Allahabad Court in a case filed by some students of the Medical College of the AMU challenging the University’s right to reserve 50% seats for Muslim students in a Central University, had refused to recognize the AMU as a University established by the minorities. It had also ruled that the AMU was created by an Act of Parliament, and not by the Muslims of India or minority individuals.
The University has secured the services of highly competent lawyers and one would expect that the Hon’ble Supreme Court would enable the community to retain its hold over the University which has been rendering yeomen service in promoting modern education to the younger generation of Muslim in some of the most educationally backward states of India.
But it would be pertinent to point out that the AMU has not measured up to the expectations of the community in promoting the educational and cultural advancement as it was desired under 5(2)(C) of the Amendment Act. Had the University been proactive in improving the educational standard of the feeder schools in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the 50% reservation for Muslims in its medical and engineering colleges would not have been necessitated. The situation has come to this pass merely because Muslim students fare poorly in the medical and engineering entrance test of the AMU and require the crutches of reservation to maintain a majority in the two key faculties. The University would be well advised to take stock of the feeder institutions and initiate measures whereby it gets better and competent stuff to fill the professional colleges with the boys and girls from the community to which it is meant to serve.