In a historic order, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) on Tuesday granted minority institution status to Jamia Milia Islamia University. This will allow Jamia Millia — started in 1920 and declared a Central University by an Act of Parliament in 1988 — to reserve up to 50 per cent seats for Muslims.

“We have no hesitation in holding that Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of the Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution,” said the order signed by Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, Chairperson of the Commission.

Grant of minority status would mean that Jamia Millia Islamia will no longer have to give reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students. The petition had been moved before the quasi-judicial body by Jamia Students' Union, Jamia Old Boys' Association, and Jamia Teachers' Association in 2006.

Opposition

The Union Human Resource Development Ministry had opposed the move on the ground that a petition challenging the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University was pending in the Supreme Court and its judgment would have a bearing on the Jamia case.

The order can only be challenged in the High Court through a writ petition or in the Supreme Court.

“We find and hold that Jamia Milia Islamia is a minority educational institution covered under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India with section 2(G) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act,” the order said, adding that the University existed even before the Constitution was in place.

Jamia was established for the purpose of keeping Muslim education in Muslim hands, entirely free from external control. Thus the Muslim community brought Jamia into existence in the only manner in which a university could be brought into existence.

‘For Muslims benefit’

The Commission in its order held: “On a conjoined reading of Section 2(o) and 4 of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act along with the history and facts and events which led to the establishment of Jamia, we have no hesitation in holding that Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of the Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institutions.”

An aided minority educational institution, therefore, would be entitled to have the right of admission of students belonging to the minority group and would be required to admit a reasonable extent of non-minority students so that the rights under Article 30(1) are not substantially impaired,” the order said. “It is well settled that mere receipt of aid does not annihilate the right guaranteed under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.”

Appropriate steps

On the HRD Ministry's directive of 2006 allowing Jamia to take appropriate steps to admit students from Muslim minority community at least to the extent of 50 per cent, the judgment said that by issuing the said direction, which is in consonance with the aforesaid directions of the Supreme Court, the HRD Ministry has impliedly recognized the factual position relating to Jamia's minority status.

Section 2(o) of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988, acknowledges it in no uncertain terms that Jamia was founded by the leaders of the Khilafat movement.

It is well known that the Khilafat movement was spearheaded by Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Mohd. Ali Jauhar, and that the Khilafat movement gave birth to the non-cooperation movement launched by Gandhiji.

On the minority status case of Aligarh Muslim University pending in the Supreme Court, it said: “It has to be borne in mind that according to Azeez Basha's case the Muhammedan Anglo-Indian College had lost its identity by its conversion into the AMU, which was established by the AMU Act,1920. In the instant case, the Jamia never lost its identity till enactment of the Act.”