The central government is set to inform the Delhi High Court that the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in Delhi was never intended to be a minority institution, as it decided to change its earlier stand on the matter.
The HRD Ministry had earlier supported the order of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) on 22 February 2011, declaring JMI a religious minority institution. However, the government will now file a fresh affidavit in the writ petitions pending with the Delhi High Court, stating that the support was an error in its understanding of the legal position.
The Narendra Modi-led BJP government has been planning to strip Jamia Millia Islamia of its minority status.
The HRD Ministry will inform the court that the initiation was set up by an Act of Parliament and is funded by the central government, and was never intended to be a minority institution, Indian Express reported.
The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had advised the HRD Ministry, then under Smriti Irani, that it was entitled to change its view in court. In his opinion to the HRD Ministry, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi is understood to have also quoted a 1967 Supreme Court judgement which had said that Aligarh Muslim University is technically not a minority institution and the same principle applied to Jamia Milia Islamia.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) had declared Jamia as a religious minority institution in 2011. Based on the order, Jamia had set aside half its seats in each course for Muslim candidates. Thirty percent of the total seats in each course were earmarked for Muslim applicants, 10 percent of the total seats for Muslim women applicants and another 10 per cent were reserved for Muslim Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Tribes as notified under the Central government list.
The NCMEI had held that “Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution”, and was, therefore, “covered under Article 30(1)… read with Section 2(g) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act”.
Article 30(1) of the Constitution gives all religious and linguistic minorities the right to set up and run educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities.