New Delhi: Hitting out at reports which questioned Jamia Millia Islamia administration’s handling of legal battle pertaining to its minority status, India's premium institution on Monday said there was a slanderous campaign by vested elements to malign its image and assured that it was ready to fight the lengthy legal battle.
"Contrary to the legal and factual position, it is unfortunate that certain section of the press has carried misleading and distorted versions with regard to the manner in which Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is handling its minority issue case in the Hon’ble High Court. Some media organizations have not adhered to the basic ethics of journalism of taking the university version. It appears that there is a false and slanderous campaign orchestrated by vested elements who are trying to malign the name of the university and its administration. JMI administration reserves its right to take legal action against such defamatory content including referring the matter to the Press Council of India and the Editor’s Guild of India", Jamia Millia said in a statement.
Since MHRD, Government of India is relying on Aziz Basha’s case disputing that Jamia is not established and administered by the minority but by the Act of Parliament it requires an in-depth interpretation of Article 30 of the Constitution of India which gives minority right to establish and administer an institution of their own choice which has been settled by a plethora of cases decided by the Supreme Court", the Jamia said.
"It is a legal battle which will be hotly contested in the Court by all respondents and therefore it is requested to all concerned to refrain from drawing any inference or conclusion at this stage", it added.
Jamia's statement came after the reports that the Modi government in a fresh affidavit filed with the Delhi High Court not only opposed the Minority Status of Jamia Millia Islamia but contrary to the well-known fact also claimed that the premium institution was not founded by the minorities – read Muslims.
The fresh affidavit filed by the Modi government is against the ruling of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) delivered on February 22, 2011 granting "minority institution" status to Jamia Milliah Islamia.
Observing that the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is a minority education institution founded by the Muslims for the benefit of community, the commission said there was no reason for not giving it a minority institution status. "We have no hesitation in holding that the Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and it never lost its character as a Muslim education institution," it said.
"Jamia was established with the purpose of keeping Muslim education in Muslim hands entirely free from external control. The history leads to one conclusion that JMI was established by Muslims, for Muslims, though non-Muslims could be admitted," the judgment observed.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) ruling was later endorsed by the erstwhile UPA government and informed the Delhi High Court accordingly by filing an affidavit on September 20 2011. The Modi government however in its latest affidavit is trying to reverse the stand taken by the two.
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The fresh affidavit, filed by the Modi government on March 5, cites the Supreme Court’s decision in the Azeez Basha Vs Union of India case of 1968 to justify the change in stand. It states that the first affidavit did not take note of the Azeez Basha case, in which the apex court said that a university incorporated under an Act of Parliament cannot claim the status of a minority institution.
“In any event, the Board of Jamia Millia Islamia is elected and need not necessarily consist of majority belonging to Muslim religion. The question of it being a minority institution therefore does not arise,” states the new affidavit that was taken on record by the Delhi High Court on March 13.
“Treating a central university as a minority education institution is repugnant to law besides undermining its status and is against the basic tenet of a central university… By no stretch of imagination, Article 30(1) could be read to mean that even if an educational institution has been established by a Central Act, still the minority has the right to administer it,” says the affidavit.
A total of five Writ Petitions were filed by different people in 2011 challenging the minority status of the Jamia Millia Islamia wherein not only the Jamia Administration but different groups associated with Jamia Millia Islamia have been made respondents.
The Jamia also said that contrary to the rules, neither the Jamia nor the other respondents were issued advanced notice of the fresh affidavit. "The court record shows that advance notice of this affidavit along with the application was served only to the Petitioner’s lawyer i.e. Vijay Kumar Sharma and other respondents including VC, Registrar, JTA and others were not served with any advance notice by the Delhi High Court, contrary to the rules", it said.
Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Azeez Basha Vs Union of India case of 1968 the Modi government, which is generally seen as anti-Muslim and anti-Minority right wing government, had in 2016 also opposed the Minority Status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
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