Govt plans three universities for minorities

"Three universities primarily for the students of minority communities will be set up with a view to providing them better higher education," a senior official of the minority affairs ministry told reporters, requesting anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media. These universities will be set up in Mysore (Karnataka), Kishanganj (Bihar) and Ajmer (Rajasthan). According to the official, "Fifty per cent of the seats in these universities will be reserved for minority students to make them more competitive in the job market."

To be set up on land owned by Waqf boards, these universities will provide education in all modern subjects along with theological teaching. However, officials said the biggest problem in establishing such universities will be to overcome the legal hurdles for providing 50 percent reservation for students from minority communities.
"Our effort is to find a solution according to constitutional provisions so that the proposal doesn't get stuck in legalities as it happened in the case of AMU."

In a 1968 lawsuit, the Supreme Court of India scrapped the minority status of the AMU. Then prime minister Indira Gandhi restored the AMU's minority status through legislation in 1981. But in 2006, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court struck down the provision of the AMU Amendment Act, 1981. It rejected the central government's plea for restoring the minority status of the AMU and scrapped 50 percent reservation for Muslim students. This was challenged by the centre in the apex court, which is yet to take a decision on the matter.

Minority affairs ministry officials said the government was trying to work out a new model to overcome such legal hurdles. According to this model, the "land for these universities will be given by the Waqf board and the government will set up a university on it. Since these universities will be for the minorities, reservation for 50 per cent minority students will be justified". The draft has been prepared and will be sent to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).

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