The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a seven-judge bench the issue of determining the correctness of minority status granted to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), according to reports. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to the larger bench for defining the parameters for grant of minority status to the educational institution.
"Centre's petition seeking a direction to withdraw the minority tag from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU): Supreme Court refers the case to a seven-judge bench," the news agency ANI reported.
Centre's petition seeking a direction to withdraw the minority tag from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU): Supreme Court refers the case to a seven-judge bench. pic.twitter.com/smsAxhkVbh— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2019
The top court was dealing with a petition filed by then UPA government, challenging the Allahabad High Court's 2006 order holding that the varsity was not a minority institution. The varsity administration had also filed a separate plea against the high court verdict on the issue. The Allahabad High Court had in January 2006 struck down the provision of the Act by which the university was accorded the minority status.
However, in 2016, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre decided to withdraw the appeal, saying that a five-judge Constitution bench in 1968 in the Aziz Basha case had held that AMU was a "central university" and not a minority institution. After the 1968 verdict, the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981 came into force.
In May 2018, the Aligarh Muslim University was in the headline, after scores of agitated students along with some Hindutva activists started a nationwide protest at the AMU's main gate, seeking to withdraw a portrait of Pakistan's founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah hanging on the varsity wall. Their demands include a probe into the alleged "anti-national activities" in the varsity.
(With inputs from agencies)