EDUCATION

Monthly Archives: APRIL 2016


JNU is a "Den of organised sex racket": A dossier prepared by university teachers
27.04.16 - pt team
JNU is a



A group of 11 JNU teachers, seen as sympathetic to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh students’ wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, have alleged that "JNU has become a den of organised sex racket”. In a 200-page document compiled last year and submitted to the university administration, the group led by Amita Singh, professor at the Centre for Law and Governance, contended:

"Over one thousand boys and girls (sic) students have been fined from Rs 2000/- to Rs 5000/- for consuming alcohol, for indulging in immoral activities in their hostels. On a casual glance at the gates of the hostel one can see hundreds of empty alcohol bottles. Sex workers have been openly employed in hostel messes, where they not only lure JNU girls into their organized racket but also pollute the boys. How come big and high brand cars are moving around the hostels particularly in the night hours. Some security staff is (sic) also involved in this racket. Freshers are particularly inducted in this ring of vice by luring through money, sex, drugs and alcohol, so that they become tied up with the cause of foreign agencies.”
 
The document titled 'Jawaharlal Nehru University: The Den of Secessionism and Terrorism' also accuses a few university teachers of encouraging a "decadent culture in JNU and legitimising separatist movements in India."
 
"It is a matter of serious concern that some JNU academics masquerading as liberals and feminists have been engaged in nefarious and anti-national activities of maligning India publically through their statements, lectures, publications and extra-academic activities of their NGOs which receive liberal funding from foreign hostile agencies," the document states.
 
Assistant professor in the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, Hari Ram Mishra, who was part of the group which prepared the dossier, told The Wire that they want to safeguard JNU from more trouble. 
 
"The reason we compiled and submitted the dossier to the university administration was to prevent future disturbances in the university. JNU has become a place where communists terrorise others in the name of freedom of speech. Our point is that students should be apolitical. If you want to enter politics, there is a huge field outside. But JNU Students' Union should be limited to campus work only. But unfortunately, here communists are preferred over meritorious students," Mishra said.
 
The report assumes significance as a high-level committee formed to probe the recent incidents on campus found many students guilty of raising anti-national slogans.
 
Earier this week, based on the recommendations of the high-level committee, the JNU administration rusticated research scholars Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, and also fined student leader Kanhaiya Kumar Rs 10,000 for their involvement in a controversial event held in campus in the memory of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
 
ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma, who had complained against Kanhaiya and his comrades for their allegedly "anti-national" activities, has also been fined Rs 10,000 for the row.
 
Hari Ram Mishra, assistant professor in the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies and a part of this group told The Wire, "The reason we compiled and submitted the dossier to the university administration was to prevent future disturbances in the university. JNU has become a place where communists terrorise others in the name of freedom of speech. Our point is that students should be apolitical. If you want to enter politics, there is a huge field outside. But JNU Students’ Union should be limited to campus work only. But unfortunately, here communists are preferred over meritorious students. The interview board selects you for teaching and research positions only if you are a communist. We want to make JNU a world-class university but politics in the campus prevents it from becoming one. The previous university administration was reluctant to take any action against the anti-national elements in the campus despite our complaints. In fact, it victimised the complainants.”

"I plan to tell the JNU teachers’ association to propose a complete ban on alcohol and motorcycles on campus. We need to strictly adhere to the JNU manual. In the manual, girls are not permitted to enter boys’ hostels. But no one follows it here. In a hostel raid, occasionally conducted by wardens, at least 40-50 boys are always fined for sheltering outsiders. In the same raids, so many girls are found to be present in the hostel rooms meant only for boys. Who knows where these girls are from? That is why I proposed to the present vice-chancellor to install CCTV cameras in hostels. I told him that unless you sanitise the hostels, the university cannot be run properly,” he added.

The dossier assumes added importance in the context of the university high-level enquiry committee (HLEC) report that found a number of students guilty of raising anti-national slogans in the campus. On 25 April, 2016 the university administration, acting upon the HLEC’s recommendations, announced harsh punishments for many students including Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Ashutosh Kumar, and Kanhaiya Kumar. However, a large section of JNU teachers and students have been opposing the HLEC report on the grounds that it violated many rules and regulations of the JNU constitution and did not take into account the versions of the students who have been claiming that they did nothing that can be called ‘anti-national.’

Compiled in 2015, the dossier can be seen as setting the script for the hate-campaign against JNU over the last two months. For example, it mentions many of the punished students as promoting and propagating ‘anti-national activities’ in the campus. Both the BJP and the RSS had launched an offensive campaign against the university with arguments similar to what has been stated in the dossier. The Organiser and Panchajanya, RSS’ mouthpieces, did a cover story in November, 2015 highlighting how JNU was ‘anti-national’ and ‘immoral’ in character. Similar allegations were advanced by the Rajasthan’s BJP legislator Gyandev Ahuja who was quoted as saying, "More than 10,000 butts of cigarettes and 4,000 pieces of beedis are found daily in the JNU campus. 50,000 big and small pieces of bones are left by those eating non-vegetarian food. They gorge on meat… these anti-nationals. 2,000 wrappers of chips and namkeen are found, as also 3,000 used condoms — the misdeeds they commit with our sisters and daughters there. And 500 used contraceptive injections are also found. Besides this, 2,000 liquor bottles as also over 3,000 beer cans and bottles are daily detected in the campus.”

The Delhi police report against JNU also mentions many of the points made in the dossier. To name a few, both the Delhi police report and the dossier claim that beef was served in hostel messes. Both also claim that a bunch of leftist students in the year 2010 celebrated the killing of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada. Similarly, both the reports interpret campus public meetings on human rights abuses in Kashmir valley and Chhattisgarh as ‘separatist’ activities. The Sangh Parivar machinery circulated many of these allegations in mobile messengers like WhatsApp over the last two months. During the nationalism versus sedition debate triggered by the much-highlighted controversy over ‘anti-national’ sloganeering, the Sangh Parivar continually tried to brand JNU as ‘anti-national’. Since JNU has had a strong Leftist political tradition, the Sangh Parivar has ideologically been opposed to JNU and its education practice since the 1970s. In this campaign, the Sangh Parivar has often resorted to sexist-feudal insinuations against the university, much like the allegations the 11-member group of teachers have made.

A majority of the students and teachers in JNU term these allegations as completely baseless and a part of the Hindutva propaganda against JNU’s liberal culture. The dossier provides only a set of pamphlets brought out by students’ organisations and discussion forums as evidence to establish JNU’s ‘anti-national’ character and make sweeping conclusions against a few teachers. However, many students The Wire spoke to were of the opinion that the pamphlets are a part of JNU’s tradition to discuss and debate different political thoughts freely and without any fear. This, they say, goes on to hone critical abilities of a research student. "How can the pamphlets be seen as evidence for anti-national activities in the campus? All political organisations, including the ABVP, bring out pamphlets to let the students know of their political standpoints,” said Om Prasad, a research scholar associated with All India Students’ Association (AISA).

Similarly teachers who have been named in the dossier as promoting ‘anti-national’ activities in the campus said that the dossier is a set of ridiculous allegations, borne out of whims and fancies of a right-wing group. "This highly ludicrous set of allegations against a number of JNU faculty (members), including myself, is laughable. This Nazi-Germany style denunciation document actually reveals the basic plot of the conspiracy that has unfolded over the past few months. The wilful misrepresentation of JNU faculty and students’ positions on various issues like the death penalty, AFSPA, communal, gender discriminatory, and casteist politics, the celebration of Mahishasur Divas, etc was used to set the script of the #shutdownantinationalJNU campaign. It should be noted that this script has been assiduously adhered to by a wide range of players starting from the government to MPs, MLAs, and bhakt trolls loyal to the Sangh Parivar down to the JNU administration, right down to the wild fantasies about sex, all night parties and alcohol consumption in the campus. The fact that this dossier was submitted to the previous JNU administration shows the plot hatched well in advance,” Ayesha Kidwai, professor in the Centre for Linguistics, told The Wire.

Professor in the Centre for Comparative Politics & Political Theory Nivedita Menon said, "Basically what this semi-literate, scurrilous, shoddily produced document ‘accuses’ some JNU faculty and students of, are publicly conducted intellectual and political acts that are basic rights in any democracy. This ‘dossier’ painstakingly puts together, as if secretly gathered through underground means, ‘evidence’ of ‘anti national activity’ – and what is this evidence? Copies of posters advertising events that have been publicly pasted all over campus – in the names of organisations, not anonymously; leaflets publicly distributed and fact-finding reports released at press conferences!”

"What this defamatory document provides no evidence of at all are filthy (but really hilarious) accusations. With all of this sex and alcoholism and night-parties to ‘co-ordinate’, it’s a wonder we find the time to co-ordinate our ‘attacks on Indian sovereignty’, while ‘keeping the Indian state in a destabilized state’. The gratuitous addition of wild and unsupported allegations of rampant sexual activity and alcoholism only proves they are desperate to paint JNU as a general ‘den of vice’, knowing that ‘anti-national’ is an unsustainable charge,” Menon said.

Professor of School of International Studies Anuradha Chenoy who has been mentioned in the dossier as one of the principal faculty members to encourage and legitimise secessionist movements in Kashmir told The Wire, "The dossier sees Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy and my visit to Muzaffarabad for a seminar as evidence of my ‘anti-national’ character. However, as a researcher of international relations, my role is to engage with different opinions. We had duly taken all permissions from the university authorities to participate in the seminar. Only because of the visit, we could know that there was a lot of negative sentiment against Pakistan in Muzaffarabad and that India has full right to talk about the problems of the contested territory. How does that make me anti-national?”

The former vice-chancellor S.K. Sopory confirmed to The Wire that due permissions were taken by Professor Anuradha Chenoy and Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy to visit Muzaffarabad and it was within their academic right to engage with different international opinions.

In the light of recent developments in JNU, the 2015 dossier that was released only recently to a few journalists, assumes critical importance. The arguments put forward in the dossier have become central to how the Sangh Parivar and the Modi government have portrayed JNU over the last few months. The right-wing group of teachers, which has clearly gained confidence under the BJP-led government, seem to be the brain behind the hate campaign against JNU.
(Courtesy : The Wire)




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Pb Edu Deptt will take-up visa row with MEA and MHRD : Cheema
10.04.16 - pt team
Pb Edu Deptt will take-up visa row with MEA and MHRD : Cheema



The Punjab Education Department has taken serious note of the reports originating in certain quarters that the students who have passed their 10+2 examination from the Punjab School Education Board would not be issued Visas to study in Australia from now onwards.
 
Taking a very serious view of this issue, Punjab Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema today convened a meeting of senior functionaries of the Department and discussed the issue with them in great detail. The Department decided to immediately take-up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Human Resource Development. 
 
Disclosing more, Cheema said that a detailed D.O. has been prepared and sent to both the Ministries with request to take-up this matter with the Australian High Commission on a priority basis as it concerns with the future of scores of students.
 
The Minister also disclosed that the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) is one of the best Boards in the Country and till date thousands of students who have passed out from the Board are studying in different parts of the world and excelling in their respective fields thereby bringing laurels to both the Board and their State. The Board is strictly following the National Curriculum Framework - 2005 and is a member of the Council of Board of Secondary Education (COBSE).
 
Vouching for the transparency and academic brilliance of the Board, Cheema also said that till today no complaint has ever been received from any country and this is the first time that such a situation has come. Though multiple reasons have been given for the rejection of the Visa including capacity of the student to pursue his education in Australia keeping in view his family resources and lack of ample evidence to suggest that student would be back in India after education.
 
The Minister further elaborated that still the Department has taken-up this issue at the highest level, so that both the future of the students and the fair and impartial name of the PSEB not be tarnished.
 
Cheema, making an appeal to the students, said that if any student of the Board faces any difficulty regarding Visa then he should immediately bring the matter to the notice of the Chairperson of the Board, so that this matter is further raised at the highest level at the earliest.
 
During the meeting, PSEB Chairperson, Tajinder Kaur Dhaliwal, Director General School Education Pardeep Aggarwal, DPI (Secondary) Balbir Singh Dhol and Director (Academic) Manjit Kaur were present.




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Aligarh Muslim (Minus) University; Salt that lost saltiness
09.04.16 - A.J. Philip
Aligarh Muslim (Minus) University; Salt that lost saltiness



On April 3 Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a gold-plated replica of the Cheraman mosque at Kodungallur in Kerala to the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz. It was, by any reckoning, far better a gift than the 2,000 kg of precious sandalwood he gifted to the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal's capital Kathmandu. At that time I wrote that it would have been better if he had given 2,000 computers to the children of Nepal, one of the least developed countries.
 
I liked the gift because it helped to remove the impression among many of Modi's own supporters that Islam came to India as the religion of conquerers and it spread because of the liberal use of sword. The mosque was the first to be built outside of Arabia. It was built during the lifetime of the Prophet Mohammed. I wondered what right Modi had to gift a mosque replica when he was among those who proudly destroyed the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992.
 
It was even more amusing that the Saudi ruler conferred on him Saudi Arabia's highest civilian award. Some of Modi's supporters went gaga over the award little realising that the Saudi rulers are usurpers and they continue in power only by misinterpreting Islam and by denying the people the democratic right to choose their own rulers. 
 
Whatever may be one's personal opinion about Modi, he is a legitimately elected leader. At least 31 per cent of the electorate voted for him. It is a different matter that Adolf Hitler also came to power through the ballot and on the strength of his oratorical skills. He demonised the Jews as the fountainhead of all evils. Yes, the Saudi rulers also have a farce of a democratic institution. Islam is one religion that does not have a priestly class. Any senior Muslim who can lead the congregation in prayer becomes the priest for the purpose. It does not approve of the concept of dynastic succession.
 
Like the high priest of Masjid-i Jahān-Numā, commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, who is there only because of an accident of birth, the Saudi King became a ruler only because of another accident of birth. The Saudi rulers have as much legitimacy to speak on Islam as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has on Hinduism. In the Arab street, they are hated figures. An uprising like the Jasmine Revolution can finish the Saudi dynasty in no time.
 
Yes, they remain the custodians of the Great Mosque at Mecca to which all the Muslims the world over turn when they offer prayers. Not many know how they had cleverly named the country after their family's name -- Saud. Imagine how we would have reacted if the Nehru family had re-named India - Nehru India that is Bharat! 
 
Also, I do not know on what basis Modi was chosen for the award. I won't speculate because I would, otherwise, have to explain why Muhammad bin Tughluq ordered the shifting of his Capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in present-day Maharashtra.
 
Be that as it may, the Kodungallur mosque is not a figment of the imagination. The mosque lost much of its old-world charm when its facade was altered. Now it looks like any other mosque. It is only when one enters it does one realise its antiquity. There is a museum attached to the mosque, set up by the Department of Culture of the Kerala Government. It was inaugurated by President Abdul Kalam.
 
Curiously, one of the attractions of the museum is a photograph of a North Indian Muslim. He never ruled the country like Akbar or Aurangazeb. Yet, every educated Muslim in the subcontinent knows his name and his contributions to Indian society. He is Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who set up the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh.
 
The Muslims were not enamoured of the English language. They considered it inferior to Arabic, their language for prayer, and Persian, their language for administration. It was certainly not a great language. Its vocabulary was limited. Shakespeare had to coin a little over 1,000 words to convey what he had in his mind. The early Indian Christians were also not very fond of this language. For them Syriac was their language for prayer. The early Catholics also disliked English. They thought Latin was a greater language than English. Greek and Latin were certainly greater languages.
 
There was another language which was as great or was greater than the ancient languages of the West and it was Sanskrit. When Fr Chavara, the first Indian to become a Saint, wanted to set up a school, he chose to set up a Sanskrit school, rather than an English school. Why? The Catholics did not encourage English at that time. In fact, they positively discriminated against the language whose father of literature is Geoffrey Chaucer, born in 1343.
 
Sir Syed was among the first Muslims to visit Britain. He was especially fascinated by his visit to Oxford, considered the mother of universities, although that distinction should have gone to Nalanda in today's Bihar. He dreamed of setting up a similar institution in India. He was in many respects like Dyal Singh Majithia who nearly converted to Christianity. He prepared his will bequeathing all his property to a Trust which could use the money only to set up and run educational institutions and libraries.
 
Majithia is today remembered as the founder of The Tribune group of newspapers and the Punjab National Bank (PNB). He was at that time richer than Jamshedji Tata who built the Tata business empire. He is also remembered as a great votary of Brahmo Samaj which tried to synthesise the best in Hinduism and Christianity.
 
Sir Syed had the foresight to know that English was here to stay. He also realised that it was not in the Muslims own interest to ignore the language. It was pointless to study Persian when job opportunities were minimal. 
 
The failure of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, also called the First War of Independence, and the deportation of the last Moghul chief to rule India -- Bahadur Shah Zafar -- to Burma, now called Myanmar, were clear signs that the British were here to stay. By the way, he was honoured by the exiled ruler.
 
He also learnt that the Bengalis were the first to learn the English language. They could easily get jobs in the British government as clerks. The Kali temple at Shimla is a lasting symbol of the Bengali presence in the British government. Incidentally, the British ruled India more from Shimla than from Delhi.
 
Sir Syed wanted to set up a university for Muslims. Today it is not difficult to set up a university if you have money. On April 8 I went to Savitribai Phule Kanya Inter College at Greater Noida to attend a function. On the way, I saw the sprawling campus of Galgotia University, whose owner is neck-deep in trouble. When my son got married, I bought sweets for distribution from Lovely Sweets at Jalandhar, reputed to be the best. Today they also own a University, named after their sweet shop.
 
Sir Syed was employed by the East India Company as a jurist. He critiqued the 1857 revolt and explained why the common people turned against the British. He was a great supporter of the British. He wanted the Muslims to study not only English but also modern science. He was at that point of time a nationalist who saw India as a beautiful bride, "whose one eye was Hindu and, the other, Muslim".
 
When he wanted to set up a university, he was told to set up a college first and then upgrade it to a university. That is how he set up the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in 1875. He got it affiliated, first, to Calcutta University and, then, to Allahabad University. He collected money for setting up the college from wealthy Muslims. True, the British rulers also opened the state purse to fulfil his dream. "The then Viceroy and Governor General of India Sir Lord North Brook gave a donation of Rs 10,000 and the Lt. Governor of the North Western Provinces contributed Rs 1000 and by March 1874 the fund for the college stood at Rs 153492 and 8 ana".
 
Sir Syed and his successors at MAO college were also good at collecting funds. They are believed to have collected Rs 30 lakh, a princely sum those days. He died without fulfilling his desire to set up a university. At that time a university could be set up only by an Act of Parliament. Finally, Aligarh Muslim University was set up as a Central University in 1920, long after Sir Syed had been buried. In between, he had also become a controversial figure because of his alleged support for the Partition.
 
When the Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, one of the promises made to the minorities was that they would be allowed to set up and run educational institutions in the manner they liked.
 
Though these rights have been whittled down over the years through clever interpretations of the law -- today the national minority commission has a Hindu member, allegedly to protect the interests of Hindus in states where they are a minority -- the minorities still clutch at the promise, perhaps, like a drowning person clutching at a straw.
 
Last week, the Attorney General told the Supreme Court that since AMU was set up by an Act of Parliament (Legislative Council at that time) it could not be treated as a minority institution. It marked a U-turn in the Centre's approach. Taken to its logical culmination, the university will become just another university losing all its Muslim character. 
 
The AG told the court that since it was set up by an Act of Parliament, it could not be considered a minority institution. Pray, what was the other way in which a university could be set up in 1920? By any community -- Hindu or Muslim?
 
Does the AG know that Sir Syed was not popular with a section of the Muslims for supporting women's education, popularising English and for aligning with the British? As the story goes, someone hurled a shoe at him and he grabbed it. Not only that, he auctioned it to raise some money for the MAO college, the forerunner of AMU.
 
Money was needed because the Legislative Council had asked the promoters of AMU to raise Rs 30 lakh if they wanted the college to be converted into a university. The money came, by and large, from the Muslim community. It was to promote the educational interests of the Muslims. These two considerations alone justify the minority status of the university. There are many schools and colleges in Delhi run by Malayalees, Tamils, Marathis and Telugus and they enjoy minority status because they form linguistic minorities in the national Capital. My son was a student of Kerala School, Vikaspuri, New Delhi.
 
Indian secularism is unique as can be inferred from this quotation: "An annual provision of 45.5 lakhs and 13.5 lakhs out of consolidated funds of India for the maintenance of Hindu temples under Article 290A of the constitution, the special status of the cow and permission to keep kirpan in no way impinge on our secularism".
 
The AG's submission in the apex court is representative of the attitude of the Modi government towards AMU. It had an ambitious plan to set up a campus in Kerala for which the state had liberally allotted land. However, HRD Minister Smriti Irani has been doing everything possible to stifle its growth.
 
True, the AG's statement in the Supreme Court is unlikely to affect the case the court is hearing., at least for the time being. There are in all seven parties involved in the case. The Supreme Court has to adjudicate whether the minority character of AMU and Jamia Millia contravenes the secular character of the Indian state. 
 
The status of Muslims in India is no better than that of Scheduled Castes, who at least enjoy the benefits of reservation. Those who doubt my statement can read the Sachar Committee report. There are at present 46 Central Universities, 345 state universities, 123 deemed universities and 235 private universities in India. Only a few of them are run by the Muslims.
 
It will be a tragedy if AMU and Jamia are deprived of their minority status on specious grounds. That would be as tragic as the demolition of the Babri Masjid. By the way, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh had once battled for retaining the minority character of AMU. Smriti Irani would do well to read the Janata Party's election manifesto and Subramaniam Swamy's argument in Parliament on the subject to know that AMU without Muslim in its name will be like salt that has lost its saltiness.
 
Photo (Top) : Indian PM Narendra Modi holding talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (on left) and a replica of the mosque that Modi gifted the King on the right.
 
The writer, a senior journalist, can be reached at ajphilip@gmail.com
Courtesy: Indian Currents




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After 50 years, Doctor turns Professor again at PU
09.04.16 - pt team
After 50 years, Doctor turns Professor again at PU



Fifty years after Dr Manmohan Singh delivered his last lecture at Panjab University(PU), the former Prime Minister is set to return to his alma mater after accepting the offer of professorship for the Jawaharlal Nehru Chair.
  
"We have worked out the logistics, which was the main problem. He is happy to be able to come here and interact with students," said PU vice-chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover. "He might deliver lectures during his visit to Chandigarh and the remaining ones through video conferencing."
 
Dr Singh, an economist credited with steering reforms in the 1990s as finance minister, has accepted the position of professor for the university's Jawaharlal Nehru Chair.
 
Singh completed his masters in economics from PU in 1954 and joined as senior lecturer in economics in 1957. He left in 1966, when he was appointed economic affairs officer (UNCTAD) at the UN Secretariat, New York. Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover said former VC RP Bambah had raised the subject of teaching with the former prime minister at a function in Chandigarh a few months back.
 
"Bambah had told him that the visit would be for a week. He had then said he would consider it," Grover said. "Once he establishes contact, students can later visit him in Delhi."
 
Bambah said professorship chairs in Panjab University were meant for interaction of the community with distinguished people and to inspire students, faculty and departments.
 
Singh, he said, won't take up any research in Panjab University but interact with students and departments to inspire them.
 
Meanwhile, the Manmohan Singh Chair at PU, introduced in 2009, got a new occupant. It would now be occupied by noted economist professor Yoginder K Alagh. The chair was lying vacant since June 2015 after its first occupant Ajit Singh passed away.




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Centre to withdraw support to AMU in granting it minority status case
04.04.16 -
Centre to withdraw support to AMU in granting it minority status case



The NDA government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would withdraw the appeal filed by the erstwhile UPA government challenging the Allahabad high court verdict holding the Aligarh Muslim University as non-minority institution.
 
"I changed my mind two months ago," attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told a three-judge bench headed by Justice J S Kehar about the Centre's decision to withdraw the appeal and distance itself from AMU, which has sought to counter it.
 
"I am distancing myself from the AMU," he further told the bench, also comprising Justices M B Lokur and C Nagappan.
 
He submitted that as the AMU was set up by the central Act and in 1967, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had in Aziz Basha judgement held it as a "central universitry" and not a minority institution.
 
Rohatgi said 20 years later, an amendment was brought in 1981 to accord the university minority status which was held as unconstitutional by the high court.
 
"You cannot override the Aziz Basha judgement. Union of India's stand is that according minority status to AMU would be contrary to the Aziz Basha judgement and it still holds good," the top law officer told the bench which permitted the Centre to file an application along with an affidavit within eight weeks to withdraw the appeal filed by it.
 
The bench said the AMU, which was represented by senior advocate P P Rao, thereafter, can file the counter-affidavit to the Centre's stand and posted the matter for hearing after the summer vacation.
 
The apex court also allowed some intervenors, for whom senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared, to assist in the matter.
 
The high court had in January 2006 struck down the provision of the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981 by which the university was accorded a minority status.
 
The division bench of the high court had upheld the decision of its single judge passed in 2005 by which it termed as "unconstitutional" the granting of minority status to AMU and 50 per cent reservation to Muslims in 2004.
 
The issue of AMU's minority status had cropped up before another bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur which was hearing a separate matter relating to the challenge of appointment of its vice-chancellor Lt General (retd) Zameeruddin Shah.
 
"Can a university itself be termed as a minority institution," the bench, also comprising Justice U U Lalit, asked during the hearing.
 
The matter had come in the pre-lunch session and the attorney general, who was present in the courtroom, said that "Union of India is not inclined to proceed with its appeal against the high court judgement before another bench."
 
Khurshid, who was also present, said the decision of another bench on the issue of minority institution will have a bearing on the vice-chancellor matter as well.
 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was present in the courtroom, said the present VC was appointed during his tenure as the Union minister for human resource development.
 
The attorney general had, on January 11, also made a statement in the apex court that AMU could not be categorised as a minority institution.
 
"It is the stand of the Union of India that AMU is not a minority university. As the executive government at the Centre, we can't be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state," he had submitted, adding that "the previous stand (of UPA government) was wrong."PTI




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