3 Oct 2023 4:30 AM GMT
The Madras High Court recently observed that the policy of reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes cannot be implemented in Minority educational institutions. The bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavalu relied on the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court and reiterated that the exclusion of Minority...
The Madras High Court recently observed that the policy of reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes cannot be implemented in Minority educational institutions.
The bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavalu relied on the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court and reiterated that the exclusion of Minority Institutions from the ambit of Article 15(5), which empowers the state to make provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward communities, is not violative of Article 14 as minority institutions are a separate class.
“In the case of Ashok Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India, It is held by the Apex Court that exclusion of Minority Educational Institution from Article 15(5) of the Constitution of India is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, as the Minority Educational Institution, by themselves, are a separate class and the Rights are brought by other Constitutional provisions. In the light of the above, we have no hesitation to hold that the concept of Communal reservation or reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes of citizens would not apply to Minority Institutions,” the court said.
The court also looked into Article 15(5) of the Constitution and Section 2(d) of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Private Educational Institutions) Act, 2006 and observed that the State did not have any authority to make special provision for providing communal reservation in a Minority Educational Institution.
“Reading Article 15(5) of the Constitution of India and also Section 2(d) of the Act of 2006, it is manifest that the State would not have any authority to make any special provision, providing for the reservation to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes or the Backward Classes of citizens for admission in a Minority Educational Institution. More over, even as per the respondents, a Minority Institution is permitted to admit 50% of the students from a Minority Community and only the remaining 50% was permitted to the Minority Institution for admitting students other than the Minorities. In view of that also, the policy of Communal Reservation cannot be implemented i.e., reservation for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes,” the court observed.
The court was hearing a plea by Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College, a minority institution against rejection of its Minority status and challenging a condition imposed by the Government restricting the admission of Minority Students up to 50%.
The college had contended that the Government did not have the right and authority to fix the cap for admission of students belonging to a minority community. It was argued that minority educational institutions were excluded from the definition of Private Educational Institutions and thus the maximum cap was not applicable to it. It was also submitted that the Government Order had become null and void after incorporation of Article 15(5) which exempted minority institutions from the ambit of communal reservation.
The State, on the other hand, argued that the institution was an Aided minority institution, receiving 100% aid from the State Government and thus could not admit students according to their own sweet will and pleasure as the right to admit students was not an absolute right. It was also submitted that to prevent reverse discrimination, the State had to regulate all minority educational institutions. Thus, it was submitted that the fixation of 50% cannot be said to be unreasonable.
Looking into the precedents of the Apex Court which had dealt with the nature of minority institutions and had emphasized the need for merit, the court opined that the Government Order, introducing a threshold cap of 50% was not arbitrary or unreasonable, or against the provisions of any Statute, Rules or regulations. However, the court also observed that minority students could also seek admission based on merit in the remaining 50% which was open for all categories.
“The State Government would be within its Right to impose the threshold cap of admitting students from the Minority Community to 50%. However, in the remaining 50% seats, filled on merit from the General Category, the students of the Minority Community can also compete and be admitted on merit and the same would not be counted in the 50% threshold cap meant for the Minority students,” the court said.
With respect to the rejection of minority status of the institution, the court observed that minority status was not temporary or for a particular tenure but it subsisted till the status was canceled by the commission as per the provisions of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004. The court added that admitting students beyond the sanctioned threshold cap of 50% would not ipso facto permit cancellation of minority status.
Thus, the court quashed the government order which had rejected the extension of minority status to the institution and allowed the institution to permit as a minority educational institution unless the same was canceled by the Commission under the Act. At the same time, the court also emphasized the regulatory measures could be adopted by the commission or any other competent authority under the Act to monitor the institution.
Counsel for the Appellant: Mr.Vijay Narayan Senior Counsel for Mr.B.Senthilnathan
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr.Vijay Narayan Senior Counsel for Mr.B.Senthilnathan, Mr.A.S.Vijaya Raghavan
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 297
Case Title: The Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College for Women (Autonomous) v The State of Tamil Nadu
Case No: W.A.No.2353 of 2022 in W.P.No.10973 of 2022