After unsuccessfully challenging the scheme of pre-matric scholarship for the minorities of Gujarat in the Supreme Court, the Gujarat government has allocated Rs 12.61 crore to implement the scheme started by the UPA government at the Centre in the year 2013-14. The figure was announced by Social Justice & Empowerment Minister, Ramanlal Vora, in the Assembly on Thursday. In May last year, Supreme Court had refused to stay an order of the Gujarat High Court that upheld the constitutional validity of the scheme.
Under the scheme, the Central Government’s contribution is 75 per cent whereas, the contribution of the state government is 25 per cent. And as per the figures provided by the government before the Assembly, they have allocated Rs 12.61 crore for the scheme for the year 2013-14. The Centre has already provided Rs 37.86 crore — its share of the contribution — for the scheme to the state government. Till 2012-13, the scheme was not implemented by the Gujarat government.
The UPA government had launched the scheme for the welfare of religious minorities since April 2008. Under the scheme, poor students (from Class I to X) belonging to five religious minority communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis — were to be given scholarships if their parents’ income didn’t exceed Rs 1 lakh annually. Each eligible student, under the scheme, is entitled to receive Rs 850 per year.
One of the objectives of the scheme is to encourage parents from the minority communities to send their school-going children to school, ease their financial burden on school education and sustain their efforts to support their children to complete school education.
In 2011, Congress leader from Kutch, Adam Chaki, had moved a public interest litigation in HC, contending that the Gujarat government was ignoring the scheme right from its inception by not implementing it.
The state government had opposed the scheme on several grounds. One of the salients of them was that the scheme discriminated against students of other religious communities and hence it was unconstitutional.
A five-judge bench of HC had upheld the constitutional validity of the scheme and ordered the state government to implement it. The Gujarat government, led by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had subsequently challenged the order before SC. The apex court had refused to stay the HC order. Following this, the state government had to implement the scheme.