7-judge SC bench to decide on minority tag of AMU

APEX COURT STATUS QUO

The AMU was set up by a central Act and in 1967, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had in Aziz Basha judgement (1968) held it is a "central university" and not a minority institution. PTI file photo.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a seven-judge bench to determine if Aligarh Muslim University, a central university, can remain a minority institution.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna posted the matter before a larger bench as the NDA government had decided to withdraw an appeal filed by the previous UPA government challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict holding the Aligarh Muslim University a non-minority institution.

Status quo

The apex court, however, ordered status quo as the varsity provided 50% reservation for Muslims.

The AMU was set up by a central Act and in 1967, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had in Aziz Basha judgement (1968) held it is a "central university" and not a minority institution.

However, an amendment was brought in 1981 to accord the university minority status, which was held unconstitutional by the High Court.

The High Court in January 2006 struck down the provision of the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981.

Unconstitutional

The division bench of the High Court upheld the decision of its single judge and termed  "unconstitutional" the grant of minority status to AMU and 50 % reservation for Muslims.

On Tuesday, the top court noted since the previous judgement on the character of the AMU was dealt by a five-judge bench, it was appropriate to place the matter before a larger bench of seven judges.

The BJP-led NDA government maintained that AMU was not a minority university. “As the executive government at the Centre, we can't be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state,” it had said.

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7-judge SC bench to decide on minority tag of AMU

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