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High Court’s notices to Centre, JMI on minority status

New Delhi: Delhi High Court, in response to a PIL filed by an NGO challenging National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions (NCMEI)’s decision to declare Jamia Millia Islamia University a minority institution, issued notices to central government (HRD and minority affairs ministries), Jamia Millia University, Jamia Old Boys Association, Jamia Teachers Association, Jamia Students Union etc. and sought their response regarding minority status granted to this institution (JMI) by NCMEI, by 18 May.

The background of all this is that the 3-member NCMEI headed by Justice M.S.A. Siddiqi, in response to a 4-5 year old petition by Jamia Students Union, Teachers and Old Boys Association etc. requesting granting it the status of a minority institution, had acceded to their request and declared JMI a minority institution on 22 February 2011.

This verdict of NCMEI, a quasi-judicial body set up by the Govt. of India, was challenged by one Vijay Kumar Sharma, president of an NGO Yuva Bharti Samiti in Delhi High Court through its advocate, Rakesh Kumar who argued that Jamia Millia Islamia Act 1988 had incorporated and established this University and had dissolved Jamia Millia Islamia Society which had been managing and running it, and NCMEI has no jurisdiction or authority to declare it a minority institution. He also said that by virtue of JMI Act 1988 passed by the Parliament it became a central university of national importance where members of all castes and religions have benefited and are benefiting and cannot be conferred the status of a minority institution, adding that the grant of minority status will defeat the purpose of the Act of 1988. The petitioner, Vijay Kumar Sharma through his advocate requested that the verdict of NCMEI and its implementation be stayed.

The advocate of Jamia Millia Old Boys Association, Jamia Teachers Association etc., Tariq Siddiqi, rejecting all the arguments of the petitioner and his advocate/s said that the founders of Jamia Millia were all Muslims and this institution was primarily set up for promoting education among Muslims.

The High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, after hearing the arguments of both parties, refused to stay NCMEI’s verdict and its implementation but issued notices, as stated above, to Union HRD and minority affairs ministries, VC of Jamia Millia University, Teachers and Old Boys Association etc. asking for their response by the next date of hearing of the case on 18 May.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2011 on page no. 18

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