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Minority status cannot be detracted merely because educational institution regulated by a statute: CJI Chandrachud

New Delhi:  Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Monday orally observed that an educational institution could not be deprived from enjoying minority status merely because it is being regulated by a statute made by the Centre or a state government.

Presiding over a 7-judge Constitution Bench hearing a clutch of pleas concerning the minority status of of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU),he said: “The State in public interest is entitled to regulate administration to ensure that conditions of service of teachers are fair, the staff of the institution is not maltreated or deprived of basic condition of service, minimum requirement for conferment of degrees, standards of examination, standards of syllabus or curriculum.

“There are a variety of administration requirements which the state can impose. That does not detract from the (minority character of the institution). That applies across the board, irrespective of whether it is a minority or non-minority institution.”

The CJI said that Article 30 – which deals with the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions – uses the expression “establish and administer” and to make Article 30 effective, “we do not have to postulate the administration by absolute minority”.

“Today, in a regulated state, nothing is absolute. Merely because the right to administer is regulated by a statute, does not detract the minority character of the institution,” he said.

Further, the CJI said that there exists no statutory or constitutional definition of the term “administer” noting that the Aligarh Muslim University does not have to solely administer religious courses or should offer admissions to any particular community.

Echoing with the observations fallen from the bench, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for the varsity, said: “It cannot be Muslims, Muslims, Muslims. It just simply simply cannot be because after the commencement of the Constitution, all the universities have a liberal element in them.”

The Constitution Bench, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Surya Kant, JB Pardiwala, Dipankar Datta, Manoj Misra and SC Sharma, will continue to hear the matter on January 10.

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