MINORITY EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Governance)

News-CRUX-10     10th January 2024        

Context: Recently, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court commenced the hearing on the issue related to Aligarh Muslim University's minority character.

‘Minority Character’ of an Educational Institution

  • Article 30(1): Article 30(1) of the Constitution empowers religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, reinforcing the Union government’s commitment to non-discriminatory aid for minority institutions.
  • Origins and Evolution of AMU: The origins of AMU can be traced back to the establishment of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MOA) College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

oInitially aimed at overcoming educational backwardness among Muslims, the institution evolved into AMU in 1920, emphasizing both Western education and Islamic theology, with advocacy for women’s education.

  • University Status: In 1920, the institution attained university status, with all assets of MOA College transferred to it. 
  • The 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.

Legal Dispute and Changes to AMU Act

  • The legal dispute, initiated in 1967 by the Supreme Court in S. Azeez Basha versus Union of India, scrutinized amendments made in 1951 and 1965 to the AMU Act of 1920. 
  • These changes altered the university's governance structure, including replacing the 'Lord Rector' with the 'Visitor' (President of India), allowing non-Muslims in the University Court, and diminishing the authority of the University Court while enhancing the powers of the Executive Council of AMU.