Should central universities like Aligarh Muslim University be allowed minority status?

Aligarh Muslim University has made its place among the premier educational institutes of India. Acquiring a top-notch place in rankings of Asian universities . It is one of the oldest and prestigious universities of India and also one of the few predominant Muslim institutions of the country. Though it was established a century ago still it's in the midst of crisis and continues to defend its minority tag.

On the basis of prior judgments, it was claimed that the university is not a minority institution and should provide reservations to SC/ST category. But AMU claims that it is a minority institution as per the AMU ACT 1981 and is exempted from reserving seats under SC/ST category under Article 15 (5) of the Constitution.

So why there is a debate on the minority status?


Our constitution clearly states in its Article 30(1) that all minorities based on religion and language have a right to establish an educational institution reserve their seats and administer it. It will eligible for full support from the government and no one will intervene in the reservation criteria. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was the face behind the famous Aligarh movement. He established a school for the upliftment of Muslims. He wanted the Muslim community to be educated and be aware of science along with religious knowledge. The school was followed by Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College which was built on minority status and it further expanded to a central university.


* Sir Syed Ahmad Khan founded the school for Muslims followed by Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875.
* He started ALIGARH MOVEMENT which was in the favor of Muslims. It gave a chance of upliftment to education for Muslims.
* He considered true education as one which has one eye on religion and another on science.
* He wished for betterment in the life of Muslims and wanted them to be qualified enough to represent the Muslim community in the world.
* After negotiation with the British Government, the Aligarh Muslim University was established in 1920 as per the AMU ACT.
* Since then many people have raised the questions on the status of AMU but all of them were dismissed because the foundation was laid for the minority only and was not subject to change.


The act came into being in 1920 by the imperial legislature. This act was further amended to do away Islamic teachings. From the commencement of this act Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College shall dissolve and all the movable and movable properties, liabilities shall reside to the university’s vest. This act provides the following power to the university:

* The university has the right to instruct any of its branch regarding learning and research works.
* The university can promote Islamic studies and promote moral and physical training.
* The university can hold examinations and grant the degrees and other academic distinctions.


Since the establishment of AMU, the act was amended many times as to check that there is no violation of the newer constitution. It was to ensure that the university is open to the people of any caste, sex or religion. In 1965 the University’s court was dismissed and the powers of Executive Council was widened. The university then moved the Supreme court in 1966 and pleaded that these amendments are violating Article 30(1) and also hindering in administering the university.


* The Supreme Court in Azeez Basha case has held that the term “educational institution” does include university.
* Confusion arises between the words “establish” and “incorporate”. We should not overstate the role of the Central legislature and underplay the role of those who really founded the AMU. A sum of Rs 30 lakh was collected by Muslims in 1920 to constitute a permanent endowment to meet the recurring expenses of the proposed university.


* Since many educational institutions for minorities exist, there are issues with it. This is because for incorporating any university, a statute is needed and that is done by the state
* The statutes incorporate these institutions as universities but they are still established by minorities and hence are liable to enjoy the special rights.
*Centre argues that conferring minority status to AMU or any institution set up by a parliamentary enactment would be contrary to Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion.
* Centre also states that minority status to AMU is unconstitutional since it is government-run institutions and discriminating against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by using the minority tag.

There are many stories or instances prompting us to have a slight disposition to determine the functionality of minority status. If we go to the start, the agenda behind putting forth SC/ST-right to opportunity, as a matter of fact, is already a sole right of every person prevailing in any country. However, given the current state of affairs and the fact that India is home to various religions and ethnic minorities, the debate should not be misrepresented and seen in its true light. AMU is an institute by a particular religious group, and meant for the upliftment of its people and keeping in mind the constitution's insistence on inclusiveness, it is important that the rights of the community are recognised and the debate viewed through its proper perspective.

- Mohammad Anas

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