SC won’t stay Centre’s minority scholarship scheme in Gujarat

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to stay a Gujarat High Court judgment upholding the constitutional validity of the Centre’s scholarship scheme for minority students in the State.

The High Court, in a majority decision in February, had rejected the Narendra Modi government’s contention that the pre-matriculation scholarship scheme was discriminatory, and directed it to implement it.

Justices P. Sathasivam and M.Y. Eqbal, while issuing notice on the government’s appeal against this judgment, directed that the matter be placed before Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir for being posted before a three-judge Bench. The two-judge Bench, refusing to stay the judgment, posted the matter for final hearing on August 6.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Gujarat, contended that the scholarship — to be provided with the Centre and the State sharing the expenditure in the ratio of 75:25 — was a scheme based on religion and the Centre could not compel the State to implement it. Mr. Salve drew the court’s attention to a similar scheme being implemented in Gujarat and said the Centre’s scholarship would cause discrimination against other religions.

The High Court ruled in favour of Congress leader Adam Chaki, who had filed a public interest litigation petition for implementation of the Centre’s scheme, which is for students belonging to five religious minorities, including Muslims, whose parents have an annual income below Rs. 1 lakh.

Modi regime argued there was already a similar scheme in State and this one would cause discrimination