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Govt grip on minority schools loosens

New Delhi, Dec. 6: Minority educational institutions might get to see the light of day even without a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the government.

A proposed amendment to the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act gives an individual or a group the right to set up a minority educational institution without permission if the government fails to take a decision in 60 days.

“A minority educational institute can proceed with the establishment of the institution if a NOC is either not granted or a decision in this regard is not communicated within 60 days,” says the new amendment bill.

As of now, it is mandatory for a minority educational institution to get clearance from the government, which can stall matters by delaying the NOC.

This January, the human resource development ministry passed the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act to strengthen the hands of minority institutions. The act provides for the setting up of a commission to advise the central or state governments on any subject related to minority education.

The HRD ministry introduced a new bill in August to amend the act and give it more teeth. The bill was sent to a parliamentary standing committee which has submitted its report with a string of recommendations.

The report says the bill should contain safeguards against possible abuse of the right to establish institutions in case of a delay in NOC. “The committee recommends that the period could be extended from 60 to 90 days,” the report says.

The amendment bill provides minority institutions the right to seek affiliation to any university of their choice. At present, the institutions can seek affiliation to six universities, including those of Delhi, Nehu (Meghalaya), Assam, Pondicherry, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The parliamentary standing committee, however, notes: “The good and reputed universities may face problems because the minority educational institutions would generally prefer to be affiliated to the best ones.'

“There must be some kind of restriction regarding geographical contiguity or state boundary.”

BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad, a member of the standing committee, has questioned the wisdom of doing away with the permission clause.

“It raises serious questions of security. The state government, through its various organisations, has the capacity to find out the source of funding and the background of the people who are establishing the institutions,” he said in a note.

Stressing the increase in terrorist attacks, he said: “Terrorists are operating from different fronts every day. Every suitable provision needs to be there to ensure that an institute seeking affiliation under the act does not become a front for some terrorist operation.”

After taking over HRD, Arjun Singh had made minority education one of his top priorities.

He had charged his BJP predecessor Murli Manohar Joshi with discriminating against minority educatio- nal institutions and introduced the minority educational institutions act to improve matters.

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