Former Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police Shri Brijlal now heads the Uttar Pradesh Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission. Recently, he served notice to the Registrar of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) reiterating that it is not a minority institution and asked why it has not implemented reservation for SC/ST candidates among students and faculty. Organiser Correspondent Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey spoke to him in Lucknow to delve deeper into the issue. Excerpts:
You have served a notice to the AMU authorities for not providing reservation to the SC/ST candidates. Any specific complaint on this issue?
Yes. This matter was brought to my notice by some representatives of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. And it seemed a serious anomaly. I instantly served a notice on the Registrar of AMU on July 4, 2018 apprising him of my concern about it and also pointing to a serious illegality taking place on the campus.
How did this issue appear before the Commission?
In fact, Shri Ram Naresh Rawat, the Chairman of SC/ST Joint Committee in UP Legislative Assembly wrote a letter to me on June 29, 2018 stating that the Supreme Court has made very clear that the Aligarh Muslim University is not a minority institution and therefore all provisions of a Central University are applicable there, but still the university has been violating the rules and has not been giving 15 per cent reservation to SCs and 7.5 per cent reservation to the STs in admissions and appointments. Similar letters reached my office from Jagat Guru Kabeer Foundation, Akhil Bharatiya Koli Samaj, Buddha Educational Society, Ambedkar Mahasabha and Scheduled Caste Morcha of Bharatiya Janata Party; all of them prayed that the SC/ST Commission must ensure that the Aligarh Muslim University follows Central Acts and Statutes in this matter.
Some people are questioning your authority to intervene in this matter. Comment
The UP Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission has been constituted under the provisions of UP SC/ST Commission Act 1995. Section 11 of the said Act empowers the Commission to investigate and evaluate the implementation of constitutional provisions meant for upliftment and development of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Members. We also look into the complaints against institutions about the negligence and violation in these matters. Thus, before making any recommendations or expressing any views in the matter we deemed it necessary to serve notice in the Aligarh Muslim University.
Have you received any reply to your notice from the AMU authorities?
Yes. They have sent. But they have just said that the Central Commission for Scheduled Caste and Tribe is already engaged in correspondence with them over the issue and the matter is also sub judice in the Supreme Court. Therefore, they want us to wait.
Is the Aligarh Muslim University a minority institution?
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan started ‘Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College’ in the year 1877. But at a later stage the idea of a University was mooted by him. Hence, a a committee was constituted for it, which comprised of members of both Hindu and Muslim communities. Maharaja Mahendra Pratap Singh offered the land for the university, while generous financial contributions were made by Maharaja Vijaynagaram, Thakur Guru Prasad Singh, Kunwar Jagjeet Singh, Raja Harikishan Singh, Maharaja Darbhanga, Rai Shankar Das and Maharaja Patiala. But it took a long time and the Aligarh Muslim University came into existence in the year 1920.
How did the confusion arise that it is a minority institution?
In fact, it has never been or deemed to be a minority institution. Baba Sahab Bhimrao Ambedkar had made it very clear that Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and Delhi University will be governed by the Central Universities Act. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of the Independent India, had proposed an amendment to the provisions of Aligarh Muslim University Act 1920 through which he deleted Section 9 that provided for the Islamic Education to the Muslim students and also repealed Section 23(1) which provided that only Muslims will be members in the supreme governing body–the University Court. Dr Zakir Hussain too had supported these amendments. Before and after Independence, various other politicians and even the High and Supreme Courts have also ruled that AMU is not a minority institution. But the University has failed to fulfill its obligatory constitutional duties. Had it given reservation to SC/ST students, thousands of youth from these communities would have been doctors, engineers or civil servants now.
How did the Supreme Court come into the picture?
An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against these amendments in the Aligarh Muslim University Act 1920. And the Supreme Court gave a Judgment on October 20, 1967 in Aziz Basa vs Government of India that Aligarh Muslim University is not a minority institution and therefore the Government of India is free to make any legislation or pass any amendments, as it does in the case of other Central Universities.
Did they make other amendments afterwards?
Yes. Another amendment was passed in the year 1972, according to which the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor was to be made by the Visitor i.e. the President of India only. And also that the studies of Indian culture and traditions must be included in the syllabus.
Did anyone ever demand reservation quota for Muslim students?
On the demand of some student organisation the University Court sent a proposal to the Visitor/President of India for allowing 50% reservation for Muslim students. But the proposal was turned down by the President of India who very categorically stated that Section 8 of the Aligarh Muslim University Act 1920 states that no discrimination will ever be made in the University on the basis of caste, creed, gender or religion. Even Article 29-2 of the Indian Constitution says that any institution funded by the Government cannot make discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, gender or religion. When the proposal of Muslim reservation was turned down by the President of India, an appeal was filed in the High Court and Justice Arun Tandon maintained the status in its judgment on October 4, 2005. Later on, the division bench comprising of Justice AN Ray and Ashok Bhushan also gave the same verdict.
How do you think the SC/ST reservation can be ensured in AMU?
The matter is sub judice. We hope the court decision on this matter will come soon. Keeping this in mind we will make our recommendations. The way the resenting voices are being heard from all corners we expecte reforms in Aligarh Muslim University sooner or later.