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Delhi HC reserves verdict on plea against closure of Maulana Azad Education Foundation

March 14, 2024

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a petition challenging the Centre’s decision to dissolve the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) which was set up in 1989 for promoting education among educationally backward minorities.

The Centre has defended its decision, saying MAEF has become “obsolete” when there is a dedicated ministry holistically executing schemes for the benefit of the minorities.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna closed the hearing on the PIL by Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, John Dayal and Daya Singh after the lawyers representing the parties concluded their submissions.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioners, contended that the decision to dissolve MAEF was not as per the mandate of law and the funds allocated for the benefit of minorities cannot be diverted.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma defended the closure of the foundation, which was fully funded by the government, contending that it has become “obsolete” at a time when there was a dedicated Ministry of Minority Affairs holistically executing schemes for the benefit of the minorities.

He said the authorities concerned have taken a policy decision to dissolve the foundation as per law.

“Arguments heard. Judgement reserved,” the bench said.

Petitioners had approached the high court earlier this month against the February 7 order of the ministry which instructed the MAEF to carry out the closure process at the earliest and submit copy of the closure certificate issued by the Registrar of Societies of the Delhi government on completion of all procedures, as per extant laws.

The ministry’s order was issued in reference to a proposal received from the Central Waqf Council (CWC) on January 21 to close the MAEF.

The petitioners have said in their PIL that the ministry’s order not only deprives the deserving students, especially girls, from availing the benefits of the schemes of the MAEF but is also without jurisdiction, completely malafide, arbitrary and a colourable exercise by authorities.

The petition, filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, claimed that such an abrupt, opaque and completely arbitrary decision to dismantle an almost four-decade-old institution and scavenge its assets and funds is bound to have an adverse impact on the lives of a number of students, schools and NGOs.

The senior law officer of the central government had earlier told the court that schemes worth crore of rupees have been introduced in the domain for education, skill development and infrastructure for the minorities.

It was also argued that out of 1,600 projects initiated by the foundation, 523 were incomplete till date and there were various irregularities in their execution

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