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Published in the 1-15 July 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

AMU Admission Policy 2005

Criticism is motivated, unjust

The Milli Gazette Online

Following is a reply by AMU professors to the criticism raised against the university’s new reservation policy which offers quotas in only 43 courses out of 289 courses offered in the university:

Legal status:
It is an undisputed history that the Mohammaden Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh was founded in 1877 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for promotion of modern education among the Muslims of India who were reeling under various forms of persecution in the aftermath of 1857 upheaval. Right from the day one Sir Syed Ahmad had envisioned that the modest beginning in the form of MAO College will ultimately take the shape of a Muslim University at Aligarh. The Aligarh Muslim University ultimately came into existence in 1920. In the Legislative Council the Governor General said: “I should like to add my congratulations to the Muslim community on the passage of this Bill. I have come here specially this morning to preside in order that I might add my good wishes and congratulations.”

The disputed and widely criticized judgment of the Supreme Court in 1968 in Azeez Basha Vs Union of India case held that AMU as a University was established by an Act of the Parliament and not by the Muslims of India, thus denying the AMU of its minority status and the protection of Article 30(1) of the Constitution. A long drawn struggle by Muslims followed, for restoration of minority character of the University .Ultimately it bore fruits and the then Congress government got the AMU Amendment Act of 1981 passed, which restored the minority status of the University. It declared AMU as 'the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India “ (Section (2) (1)). Further, the Act of 1981 empowered the University under Section 5 (2) (c) “to promote especially the educational and cultural advancement of the Muslims of India” The entire LEFT in both houses of Parliament supported this without any reservations.

In Azeez Basha case the Supreme Court had itself observed: “The Article (Article 30 (1)) in our opinion clearly shows that the minority will have the right to administer educational institutions of their choice provided they have been established by them…… The words “established” and “administer” in the Article must be read conjunctively and so read it gives the right to the minority to administer an educational institution provided it has been established by it”. It was held by the Court in Azeez Basha case that Muslim minority was constitutionally incompetent “to administer the AMU as the latter was not established by the Muslim minority”. But the amendments carried out by Act of 1981 to the effect that “University” meant to be “the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India” proves beyond doubt that the Muslims of India have the unassailable right to administer AMU. It does not matter whose assistance is obtained to manage the institution. This settles the issue for good that AMU is a minority institution established and administratered by the Muslims of India, and is thus entitled to the protection of Article 30 (1) of the Constitution.

Right to formulate its policies
So far as the framing of admission policy is concerned, it needs to be recalled that AMU is an autonomous central university, funded by the government like other central universities, and is empowered to formulate its own admission and other policies in line with its objectives. The right to frame its policies is a necessary adjunct of the fundamental right of the Muslim minority to administer the institution established by them. Therefore, the AMU is well within its powers to formulate the present admission policy for reservation of 50% seats for Muslims candidates in selected courses strictly on merit, based on the open all India competitive tests to be conducted by the University. This is strictly in line with the responsibility of the University to promote especially the educational advancement of Muslims of India.

Doors open for all
The remaining 50% of seats in selected courses shall remain open irrespective of religion, castes and creed like in the past, in strict compliance of the provisions of Section 8 of the AMU Act. This provision was retained even after the introduction of Section 5 (2) (c) in the AMU Amendment Act of 1981 which is a unique feature of AMU. The provisions of Section 5(2) (c) were meant to take precedence over that of Section 8 and this interpretation is also in accord with the judgment of the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai Foundation case that reservation for minorities in aided minority institution can be made even beyond 50%, if the circumstances so demand.

The same 11 Judge bench of the Supreme Court in TMA Pai case also held “as long as the minority educational institution permits admission of citizens belonging to the non-minority class to a reasonable extent based upon merit, it will not be an infraction of Article 29(2), even though the institution admits students of the minority group of its own choice for whom the institution was meant.” In several other cases the Supreme Court has held that Article 29(2) of the Constitution means that a minority institution will necessarily have a “sprinkling of outsiders” with a majority of its students from the minority community which established it.

AMU stood the test of time
It is worthwhile to recall that it is this legal dispensation available to AMU which saved the day for AMU when the ill-intentioned NDA Govt. made a determined bid to take effective control of the University by imposing the Combined Entrance Test (GET) for admissions in 2004.

It is pertinent to mention that in 2003 the NDA Govt. had approved 5O% reservation for Muslims in Jamia Hamdard, a minority institution aided by the Govt., and 50% reservation for Muslims was also informally offered to AMU by Shri Murli Manohar Joshi, the then Union Minister, HRD. Could the Sangh Parivar, Marxists and the ever-alert National Press find fault with that?

Case of Muslims as a backward class
To cap it all, the official admission of the fact that the Muslims are at the bottom of the list of economically and educationally backward communities in the country, makes a very strong case for special concessions for the alleviation of Muslims in the country, onus of which lies more on the shoulders of political parties like CPM, who are presently opposing the new admission policy of AMU, who swear for equal opportunities for all, secularism and democracy.

Given the legal status, past history of AMU and the pressing need for educational upliftment of Muslims, the prevailing trend of reservations everywhere and directions of the Apex Court, would heavens fall if out of 300 odd Universities, besides several hundred other institutions of higher learning in the country, AMU opted for just 50% reservation for Muslims, that too strictly on merit? Has intolerance and indifference to the plight of this hapless community reached such a disturbing level?

Criticism of the policy
In this background, leave alone the expected opposition from the communal and unfriendly Sangh Parivar, the attitude of CPM Politureau and the Left as a whole is wholly unfounded and unwarranted. It is high time for them to dissociate themselves from the perennial destructive games of their local Padma Awardee comrade, whom they have always projected as a prophetic figure. Their attack on the AMU admission policy is entirely based on deliberate misinterpretation of the provisions of the AMU Act, disregard of the historical background of AMU, and vastly exaggerated claim of adverse reaction on the campus. The purported “appeal” (not a protest) spearheaded by the Padma awardee, addressed to the University, which has not been purposely served on the University nor circulated on the campus, was rushed it to the press straight away, fearing imaginary falls-outs in the form of devaluation of degrees and adverse effect on job prospects of our students and injection of ill feeling amongst the students. The so called “appeal” was reportedly signed by 23 serving teachers, but even their names were not made public.

The proponents of the theory 'of creation of two set of student's conveniently' forgot that from time immemorial AMU has seen the amalgam of students to such a perfection that it is impossible to segregate them on the basis of faith on the campus. This has stood the test of time even in the most provocative situations.

Their memory also failed and they were not able to recollect that there are scores of minority institutions spread over the length and breadth of the country, but no one, including these pseudo-secularists, ever highlighted the issues of depreciation of degrees, diminishing of job prospects and creation of friction and discord amongst students.

Religion-based reservations
It is often heard that in politics there are no permanent friends and foes, but they have permanent ideologies. But it is perhaps for the first time that the Leftists are caught applying different yardsticks. They claim that they are opposed to religion-based reservations and, therefore, are opposed to reservation in AMU. The same very people had no hesitation in supporting caste-based reservations based on Mandal recommendations and could not find therein the elements of social tensions, threat from Hindu fascists and creation of ill feelings and rift amongst people.

Somebody in this country should answer the big question as to who shall provide the much needed solace to Muslims to take them out of the morass and in the process safeguard the cherished secular and democratic ethos of the country.

Unfriendly media
With great dismay and shock we are constrained to question the role of a large section of English and Hindi print media during the current debate. They came out against the new admission policy of AMU, apparently on the basis of the brief contained in purported 'appeal' signed by 65 persons including some serving teachers of AMU led by our Padama awardee. The 'appeal' remains un-seen till date. While writing editorials after editorials, the dailies did not consider it necessary to check the facts from the University and the Govt. The views in favour of the University are continued to be blocked for motives so apparent. Not a word has been allowed to be published against the views of Padma awardee who actually started the row based on misinterpretations and concoctions.

The press and other critics of AMU admission policy have only this much as solution for the betterment of Muslims: Muslims should be sent to quality coaching centres to improve their lot. Awful. After 57 long years of sufferings and deliberate neglect, the conscience keepers have only this to offer by way of a solution. How disappointing and disgusted for the already battered Muslims.

Crux of the matter
The overall conclusion that could be reached from the whole chain of events and the mentality in operation centering round the reservation for Muslims, that too in just one institution, is that the opposing forces are simply playing politics and there is no academics involved in the debate. No one is realising that no perceptible change for the better has taken place since India attained independence for alleviating the minorities. Some positive interventions are badly required to transform our largest democracy into a real democracy. Merely shedding crocodile tears for narrow political gains is not going to be of any good. Upliftment of economic and social status of the minorities should be on the agenda of all the political parties.

The reservation of 50% seats for Muslims in some courses is a positive step and is based on sound legal and constitutional grounds. All right-thinking people and political parties should openly come out in support of this initiative.

Statement issued by AMU faculty, past and present:
1. Prof. Nafees Ahmad Former President Teachers Association, 2. Prof. S. Qaiser All Naqvi Chairman, Department of Civil Engineering, Former President Teachers Association, 3. Prof. Zainus Sajidin Siddiqui Former Chairmen, Department of Sunni Theology, 4. Prof. Shahid A. Siddiqui, Chairman, Department of Radio Therapy, 5. Prof. Ziauddin Ahmad, Former Hony. Secretary, Teachers Association, 6. Prof. M. Mobashir, Principal, J. N. Medical College, 7. Prof. S. M. Tariq Hasan, Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, 8. Prof. Akhlaq Ahmad, Dean, Faculty of Law

For further communication contact: Prof. Ziauddin Ahmad / Prof. Akhlaq Ahmad at ahmad_akhlaq@rediffmail.com 

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