AMU MINORITY STATUS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     3rd February 2024        

Context:  The Supreme Court concluded the hearings in the case to decide if Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) can claim minority status under Article 30 of the Constitution.

Effect of A Statute On Minority Status

  • Background: Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India states “All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
  • Legal Pronouncement in 1967: In the legal case of S Azeez Basha v Union of India (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) occurred through the enactment of the Aligarh Muslim University Act, 1920.
  • AMU's Non-Qualification for Minority Status: As per the court's interpretation, the legal establishment of AMU through a legislative act negated its eligibility for minority status, as it was not founded solely by the Muslim community.
  • University Status: In 1920, the institution attained university status, with all assets of MOA College transferred to it. 

oThe AMU Act incorporated a teaching and residential Muslim University at Aligarh. However, the dispute over the university’s minority character arose in 1967 during a legal review of amendments to the AMU Act in 1951 and 1965.

Should The 1981 Amendment Be Considered In This Case?

  • 1981 Amendment: The 1981 amendment to the AMU Act included provisions emphasizing the Muslim community's role in establishing the university and stressing the promotion of cultural and educational advancement for Muslims in India.
  • Allahabad High Court's Ruling: In 2005, the Allahabad High Court declared the 1981 amendment void, asserting that the AMU was not a minority institution based on the Azeez Basha precedent. The court suggested that the amendment was an attempt to overturn the Azeez Basha decision.
  • Challenges and the Supreme Court's Involvement: The Allahabad HC's ruling was contested in the Supreme Court, leading to a referral to a larger bench by a two-judge bench in 2006. This move indicates the complexity and significance of the legal issues surrounding the 1981 amendment.