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AMU’s troubled legal history

EducationWorld July 16 | EducationWorld

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has had a chequered history with Parliament amending the parent AMU Act, 1920 several times, and frequent disputes with the courts over its minority status. A summary:

Article 30 (1) of the Constitution. “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”

1920. The Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College, promoted by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and members of the Muslim community in 1877, was upgraded into a university through the AMU Act, 1920 enacted by the British India government. An endowment of Rs.30 lakh by the Muslim community was imposed as a precondition of the British India government enacting this legislation.

1951. Post-independence, the Congress government amended the AMU Act, 1920 to make hitherto compulsory religious instruction optional.

1965. The Congress government at the Centre amended the AMU Act, 1920 to abolish the governance and administrative powers of the University Court. This amendment prompted one S. Azeez Basha to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court contending that it abridged the right of minorities to “administer” their institutions without interference as guaranteed by Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India.

1967. In S. Azeez Basha vs. Union of India (1968 SCR 833), the Supreme Court ruled that AMU isn’t a minority institution because it had been ‘established’ by an Act of the British India government, and not by the Muslim community.

1981. Parliament enacted the Aligarh Muslim University (Amendment) Act, 1981, overruling the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Azeez Basha Case and confirmed the minority status of AMU.

2005. One Dr. Naresh Agarwal and several non-Muslim students filed a writ petition in the Allahabad high court challenging the reservation of 50 percent of seats in AMU’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College for Muslims. In Dr. Naresh Agarwal & Ors vs.

Union of India (WP. No. 15504 of 2005) the court ruled that the conferment of minority status by Parliament through the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981 was ultra vires and unconstitutional.

2006. AMU, the Central (Congress-led UPA-I) government, AMU Old Boys Association and Muqeet Chaudhary, an AMU alum, filed appeals in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad high court judgement.

2016. Attorney-general of India Mukul Rohatgi announced withdrawal of the Central government’s appeal against the Allahabad high court judgement. 

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