In Setback to Minorities, SC Says Govt Can Regulate Minority Institutions

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Supreme Court of India.

The apex court held that the state could introduce a regulatory regime and a mechanism to select teachers in the “national interest”.

Caravan News

NEW DELHI –– The Supreme Court on Monday held that the state is well within its rights to introduce a regulatory regime in the “national interest” to provide minority educational institutions with well-qualified teachers in order for them to “achieve excellence in education.”

The managements of minority institutions cannot ignore such a legal regime by saying that it is their fundamental right under Article 30 of the Constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions according to their choice.

The judgment came in connection with a case that concerned the validity of the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act 2008, which had constituted a commission to appoint teachers in madrasas.

Upholding the validity of the 2008 Act, the apex court held that the commission was made up of persons with knowledge of Islamic culture and theology and that the provisions of the Act were “specially designed” for madrasas. The court held that the Act was “not violative of the rights of the minority educational institutions on any count”.

In a 151-page judgment, a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit said the regulatory law should however balance the dual objectives of ensuring standard of excellence as well as preserving the right of the minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions. Regulations that embrace and reconcile the two objectives were reasonable, it said.

The court held that minority institutions cannot ignore such a legal regime on the grounds that it is their fundamental right under Article 30 of the constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions.

The court explains how to strike a “balance” between the two objectives of excellence in education and the preservation of the minorities’ right to run their educational institutions.

For this, the court broadly divides education into two categories – secular education and education “directly aimed at or dealing with preservation and protection of the heritage, culture, script and special characteristics of a religious or a linguistic minority.”

When it comes to the latter, the court advocated “maximum latitude” to be given to the management to appoint teachers. The court reasons that only “teachers who believe in the religious ideology or in the special characteristics of the concerned minority would alone be able to imbibe in the students admitted in such educational institutions, what the minorities would like to preserve, profess and propagate.”

However, minority institutions where the curriculum was “purely secular”, the intent must be to impart education availing the best possible teachers.

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