Policy Matters

Three Universities for minorities part of Government plan

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According to the officials, after allocating INR 25 crore (INR 250 million) for two more campuses of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), the government is planning to set up three more universities for the country's minorities. These universities will be set up in Mysore (Karnataka), Kishanganj (Bihar) and Ajmer (Rajasthan). According to the official, '50 % of the seats in these universities will be reserved for minority students to make them more competitive in the job market.' To be set up on land owned by Waqf boards, these universities will provide education in all modern subjects along with theological teaching.

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However, officials said the biggest problem in establishing such universities will be to overcome the legal hurdles for providing 50 % reservation for students from minority communities. In a 1968 lawsuit, the Supreme Court of India scrapped the minority status of the AMU. Then prime minister Indira Gandhi restored the AMU's minority status through legislation in 1981. But in 2006, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court struck down the provision of the AMU Amendment Act, 1981. It rejected the central government's plea for restoring the minority status of the AMU and scrapped 50 percent reservation for Muslim students. This was challenged by the centre in the apex court, which is yet to take a decision on the matter. Minority affairs ministry officials said the government was trying to work out a new model to overcome such legal hurdles.

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