SC admits appeal on minority trust rights

New Delhi Aug. 26. The Supreme Court has admitted a special leave petition against a judgment of the Madras High Court permitting appointment of non-minorities as trustees of a minority trust running nine educational institutions, including an engineering college in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

A Bench comprising, Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Justice B.P. Singh, granted leave to T. Varghese George, vice-chairman, tele-medicine, Apollo Hospital, associated with the Trust to file the special leave petition against the High Court judgment of December 5, 2002.

The Bench, after hearing K. Subramanian, counsel for Mr. Varghese, made it clear that during the pendency of this appeal, if trustees appointed under the scheme framed by the High Court, acted contrary to the interest of the Trust, the aggrieved persons could approach the High Court to redress their grievances. The Bench gave liberty to the appellant to file additional documents, if any, within 10 weeks.

According to T. Thomas Educational Trust, it was established in 1975 with the object of imparting education in Chennai and Kerala and it was running nine institutions.

A Division Bench of the High Court in a civil proceeding instituted by a person interested in the Trust framed a scheme modifying the composition of the original trust and appointed non-minorities as Trustees. A retired IAS officer, a non-minority, was appointed as executive trustee.

Assailing the judgment, counsel contended that the right guaranteed under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution to the minorities was not only to establish but also to administer minority educational institutions and that the High Court had overlooked this aspect while appointing non-minorities as Trustees.

He submitted that after the newly appointed Trustees took over the administration they had closed down one engineering college without even considering a joint venture proposal offered by third parties for running the said college.

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