The BJP government has filed a revised affidavit in the Delhi High Court opposing the order of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) that declared Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) as a religious minority institution.
The fresh affidavit, filed by the BJP-led government on 5 March 5, reverses the previous government’s stand on the issue, a media report said Wednesday.
On 29 August 2011, the HRD Ministry, under then minister Kapil Sibal of the Congress government, had submitted an affidavit in court stating that the government “respects the declaration made by NCMEI”.
But the fresh affidavit cites the Supreme Court’s decision in the Azeez Basha Vs Union of India case of 1968 to justify the change in stand. It states that the first affidavit did not take note of the Azeez Basha case, in which the apex court said that a university incorporated under an Act of Parliament cannot claim the status of a minority institution.
“In any event, the Board of Jamia Millia Islamia is elected and need not necessarily consist of majority belonging to Muslim religion. The question of it being a minority institution therefore does not arise,” states the new affidavit that was taken on record by the Delhi High Court on 13 March, according to the Indian Express.
In 2011, 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.
The Jamia University was established by Muslim nationalist leaders in 1920 at Aligarh in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s call to boycott all educational institutions supported or run by the colonial regime. It eventually shifted to Delhi and was run by a registered society called the Jamia Millia Islamia Society.
In 1962, JMI became a deemed university. In 1988, it got the status of central university through a central law University. Kashmir University’s former Vice-Chancellor Professor Talat Ahmad is the current VC of the JMI.