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Now AMU seeks minority status
MOHAMMED ANAS  New Delhi | 6th Mar 2011

Salman Khursheed

he Aligarh Muslim University will plead its case for minority status through both "legal and political routes" taking a cue from the minority status granted to Jamia Millia Islamia. Jamia is the first Central university in the country to be accorded this status.

AMU officials say that the legal team of the university will refer to the Jamia verdict in the Supreme Court. They also say that the university will send a team of political leaders from the Muslim community to request the Central government to bring "a parliamentary legislation in this regard if need be".

When contacted, both Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed said that they "do not object to a minority status" to AMU. But they did not say whether the Central government would bring in any parliamentary legislation for the same.

The AMU was granted a "no objection" from the Centre in 2006 to initiate 50% reservation for Muslim candidates in its admission policy. But a non-Muslim medical student of the university challenged the move in the Allahabad High Court. The court struck down AMU's minority status. The AMU approached the Supreme Court, which stayed the high court order but directed the AMU not to implement any Muslim quota in admissions till the matter was settled. Since then, both the AMU and the Union of India are before the Supreme Court.

According to AMU vice-chancellor P.K. Abdul Aziz, the Jamia case will help the AMU in a positive way. "Jamia has been declared a minority institution on the ground that it has maintained its minority character throughout history. It's the same with AMU. Moreover, in the case of AMU even the AMU Amendment Act 1981 maintains that it was established 'for the cultural and educational advancement of Muslims of India'. I hope our legal team gets the AMU case through the Supreme Court," said Aziz.

Senior lawyer Eijaz Maqbool, who represents AMU in the Supreme Court, said that the Jamia verdict was pronounced by a commission, a quasi judicial body, which enjoyed the powers of a civil court, and, hence it would have little bearing on the AMU case. "Nevertheless, it will strengthen our line of argument that AMU was established by the Muslims of India for their cultural and educational uplift like the way Jamia has been proved," said Maqbool.

Members of the AMU court, the main governing body of the university, feel that it's high time the Muslim community pressed the Congress-led Central government to ensure minority status for the university. "We plan to lead delegations of prominent Muslim leaders to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to plead for a parliamentary legislation to ensure minority status for the university permanently. If they are serious about Muslim empowerment, they will not disappoint us," said a senior AMU court member who is also a Rajya Sabha member.

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