Power to grant minority status to institute vests with Central govt: SC

 The claim of an institution to minority status is to be decided by the Centre and it is not for courts to deal with such issues, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Friday.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur directed Brahmo Samaj Educational Society, an organisation running educational institutes in West Bengal, to approach the Union government within six weeks with its plea for declaration as religious minority.

Citing provisions of the National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutes Act 2004, the bench said, “The power to grant minority status to an institute entirely vests with the central government, which may decide it based on relevant materials.”

The bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifullah, A K Sikri, S A Bobde and R Banumathi, allowed the Brahmo Samaj Educational Society to withdraw its plea before it.

The issue relating to grant of minority status to the Brahmo Samaj was pending since 1984, though SC has passed an order in 2008 making an interim arrangement for it to continue running its institutes. Recently, the Union government maintained before the SC that Aligarh Muslim University, a central institute passed by an Act of Parliament, was not a minority institution. Relying upon a 1967 judgement of the SC, it claimed the institute cannot be granted minority status.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has also given an opinion to the government that Delhi-based Jamia Milia Islamia is not a minority institution.

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