The Delhi High Court has ruled that once the management of a minority educational institution makes a conscious choice of a qualified person from the “minority community” to lead the institution, either as a vice-principal or principal, then the court cannot go into the merits of the choice.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said, “A linguistic minority is entitled to conserve its language and culture by constitutional mandate”.
The High Court’s observation came while rejecting a petition challenging the minutes of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) dated December 19, 2013, appointing Shubhada Bapat as vice-principal of Nutan Marathi Senior Secondary School, a government-aided school.
The petitioner, Birpal Singh, a mathematics teacher in the school, submitted that the name of Ms. Bapat has been recommended by the school for the post of vice-principal despite the fact that she was junior to him.
Mr. Singh argued that the school took into account that since it is a “Linguistic Minority Institution”, Ms. Bapat would be a better choice as she also belongs to the same “linguistic minority community”. Mr. Singh vehemently argued that the actions of the school are discriminatory and biased against him. He also contested the minority status of the school.
The Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) submitted that the school is a recognised as linguistic minority aided school receiving 95% grant-in-aid from the Delhi government under the provisions of the Delhi School Education Act and Rules (DSEAR), 1973.
The court took note of the fact that the school is listed as a “linguistic minority institution” in DoE’s list of recognised institutions. It rejected the arguments of Mr. Singh that for an institution to be declared “minority”, it has to be notified as such by the Central government in the official gazette.
“Article 30 of the Constitution of India upholds the rights of minority communities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. It ensures the rights of minorities which should be preserved,” Justice Singh observed.
“Every linguistic minority may have its own social, economic and cultural limitations. It has a constitutional right to conserve such culture and language,” Justice Singh said.
“Thus, it would also have a right to choose teachers, who possess the eligibility and qualifications, as provided, without really being influenced by the fact of their religion and community and the same can be done by the process defined by the school management,” the judge added.
“Linguistic and cultural compatibility can be legitimately claimed as one of the desirable features of a linguistic minority in relation to selection of eligible and qualified teachers,” the High Court said, noting that the selection of vice-principal made by the school is not contrary to the settled law.