National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairperson Ramshankar Katheria said today the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) should clarify its stand on reservations for an SC quota or else it may lose central funding. Katheria said that the commission had written to the varsity asking why it was not fulfilling its constitutional obligations by providing reservations to the weaker sections. “If the varsity authorities fail to provide the commission with a suitable answer to the written query asking it to prove that AMU is a minority institution, within a month of receiving the commission’s missive, the NCSC would direct the UGC to stop all funding of AMU for not fulfilling its constitutional obligations,” Katheria told reporters here.
Katheria, a former minister of state in the Union HRD ministry, said the NCSC had decided to become a party in the ongoing case in the Supreme Court where the AMU is claiming to be a minority institution. While the UPA government had supported the claims of the AMU in the SC regarding its status as a minority institution, the present Modi-led government has reversed its stand and has submitted an affidavit rejecting the AMUs claim.
Todays meeting between the Commission Chairman and AMU officials was attended by the acting AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tabassum Shahab, in the absence of Prof Tariq Mansoor, who is out of station. The controversy was stoked last week after the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath demanded that the AMU and the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi would “have to grant” quotas to STs and STs.
The issue snowballed into a political controversy yesterday after the Lok Sabha Member from Aligarh Satish Gautam raised this issue in a letter to the AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Mansoor.
The AMU authorities have in their response to the Chairman clarified that any tampering with the admission system, especially on the issue of reservation quotas would tantamount to contempt of court simply because the issue on which the reservation tangle rests, is the recognition of AMU as a minority institution which is presently pending before the apex court.
When contacted, the Vice Chancellor of AMU, Prof Tariq Mansoor told PTI over telephone, “We are governed by the Constitution and its Article 30 which permits religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer their own educational institutions.” Prof Mansoor said that Article 15(5) of the Constitution grants minority institutions under Article 30 to be exempt from constitutional reservations.
He claimed that the Supreme Court had categorically directed the AMU authorities to continue administering the institution according to the 1981 AMU amendment Act which had granted a minority status to this institution till the Supreme Court delivers its final verdict on this matter. “Till then, our hands are completely tied and once we receive the Commissions directives, we will convey this to them,” he said.