It must have 75 p.c. minority students

In a decision with far-reaching consequences, the State Cabinet on Friday decided that 75 per cent intake of students of a notified minority community is mandatory for an institution to be accorded minority status.

The grant of minority institution status has been a bone of contention since the Supreme Court exempted unaided minority institutions from providing 25 per cent reservation to children from disadvantaged sections under the Right to Education Act.

Briefing presspersons on the Cabinet decisions, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri said that the admission process had already been completed in educational institutions this year, and the RTE quota would be implemented in these schools from the next academic year.

The Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation has decided to challenge the Cabinet decision.

C.R. Mohamed Imtiaz, chairman of the federation, said that the definition had “no Constitutional validity” and claimed that several court decisions had earlier “settled the matter”. In his view, minority status can only be determined by the constitution of the board of management and not the student strength.

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions has said that the percentage of students admitted from a notified minority community cannot be an index of the minority status of the institution.

Niranjan Aradhya of the Centre for Child and Law at the National Law School of India University said the fixing of the 75 per cent criterion is “irrational and has been done in a hasty manner”. He asked what would happen if the population of a school’s neighbourhood does not have minority community people in that proportion. “This is a question of Constitutional and national character and should be thought through.”

The Karnataka Unaided Schools Managements Association (KUSMA) and the Karnataka State Private Schools Managements Federation (KSPFMF) have welcomed the decision of the Government.

However, they will go ahead with the decision to close schools between July 16 and 22 in protest against the manner of RTE implementation in the State if the government does not clear other related issues by calling a meeting.

One of the issues raised, particularly by KUSMA, is greater clarity on the “minority” tag issue.

KUSMA counsel K.V. Dhananjay said that the decision did not answer the more pressing question of how a minority is defined and how it should be determined. He said the organisation was contemplating filing a review petition in the Supreme Court.

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