Aligarh Muslim University has told the Supreme Court that the Modi government at the Centre changed its stand over ‘minority’ status of the university and that the decision was taken out of “political considerations” and the Centre cannot be allowed to take a U-turn with the change of government.
In an affidavit filed in the court, AMU said it is a minority institution as Parliament had amended the law in 1981 to grant it the status. The university’s response came after the Centre had told SC that AMU could not be categorized as a religious `minority’ institution and withdrew its petition filed under UPA in support of minority status for the university.
“…The decision taken after change of government at the Centre does not appear to be a sound decision,” the affidavit said. “It is not open to the central government to question the validity of a law made by Parliament,” it said.
Parliament passed the AMU (Amendment) Act in 1951 which opened membership of the Court of AMU to non-Muslims. In another amendment in 1981, Parliament allowed AMU to “promote, especially the educational and cultural advancement of Muslims in India”, permitting the institution to get back its minority tag as it attempted to remove the basis of the SC’s 1967 judgement in Azeez Basha case holding that the university was not a minority institution since it was set up by an Act of Parliament and not by Muslims.
In 2004, AMU reserved 50% seats in PG medical co urse for Muslims. This was challenged in the Allahabad HC, which in 2005 and 2006 held that the SC decision in Azeez Basha case continued to hold good and said the reservation for Muslims was unconstitutional. Both the Centre and AMU filed appeals against the HC verdict in 2006, arguing that the 1981 amendment allowed the institution to carve out reservation for Muslims.
The university in its affidavit said the Centre was not justified in taking U-turn on the issue after supporting it in the Allahabad HC and the SC. It contended that the government’s decision to challenge the 1981 amendment amounts to “contempt of Parliament” and the court should not allow it to withdraw it’s appeal filed against the HC order.
Referring to the SC ruling in 1967, the Centre had contended that the 49-year old judgement is still valid and binding despite the amendment brought in AMU Act in 1981.