The Madras High Court Bench here has allowed a writ filed by a minority educational institution challenging a Government Order (G.O.) that restricted the period of granting minority status to institutions to five years.
The secretary of Jeyaraj Annapackiam College for Women from Periyakulam in Theni district filed the writ challenging a single judge’s order that dismissed the college’s plea to quash the order issued by the Higher Education Department of the State Government on March 6, 2009.
According to the petitioner, the college was established in 1971 and was granted minority status in 1976. It is managed by the congregation of the sisters of St Anne, Tiruchi.
The chief object of the institution had not changed from the time of its establishment and there was no necessity to compel the management to apply for renewal of minority status once in every five years.
In its judgment, a division bench comprising Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and P. Devadass noted that the petitioner college is a religious minority institution.
Relying on a government order issued by the department of higher education on June 17, 1998, the judges observed,
“The government order says that to decide whether an applicant is a minority or not based on religion or language, the total population of that minority in the State of Tamil Nadu should be taken into consideration and not the population of that minority in any particular region where the educational institution is situated.”
“Therefore, it is evident that the impugned order restricting the period of minority status was upheld by the single judge without noticing the guidelines issued by the government in its order issued in 1998. The order does not mention anywhere that minority status should be given to a limited period”, the judges observed.
Holding that the government did not doubt the claim of minority status of the petitioner college, the judge ruled that the government order restricting the period for minority status was ‘without any rhyme or reason’.
Setting aside the order of the single judge, the Bench allowed the petition and directed the government to permit the petitioner college enjoy minority status (until any change) without any restriction.