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HC gives staff freedom to madarsas
- Court strikes down act that allowed govt commission to recruit teachers

Calcutta, March 12: Calcutta High Court has given recruitment powers to the managing committees of individual madarsas, striking down a Left Front-era law that allowed a government commission to make appointments.

The court said the Madarsa Service Commission Act, 2008, was “ultra vires” to the Constitution. “The Madarsa Service Commission Act, 2008, is contrary to the provisions laid down in Article 30 of the Constitution,” Justice Sambuddha Chakrabarti said.

Article 30 deals with the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

The Left government had introduced the act in 2008 and the Trinamul administration had continued with it despite opposition from a section of Muslims. Sources in the state government said the administration was unlikely to challenge today’s order.

The order followed a petition by Contai Rahamania High Madarsa in 2008 challenging the legality of the state government’s decision to enact a law to recruit teachers and non-teaching staff to minority educational institutions such as madarsas.

The petitioner had also sought an interim order staying such recruitments in madarsas.

But as Calcutta High Court refused to pass an interim order, the petitioner moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court in December.

On January 31, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the high court with the directive that it dispose of the matter in a month.

Abu Sahil, the advocate appearing for the petitioner, informed the high court on February 11 of the Supreme Court’s directive. “As the matter was not heard till March 11, I brought it to the notice of the high court again yesterday,” Sahil said.

Sahil told the court today that after the School Service Commission was formed in 1997, teachers and non-teaching staff of the madarsas used to be recruited by it. Earlier, madarsas used to make their own recruitments.

“Although Clause 15 of the School Service Commission Act mentions that minority institutions will not come under the purview of the SSC, the commission continued recruiting teachers and non-teaching staff to madarsas as they were not considered minority institutions till 2007,” the lawyer said.

Sahil said the state government issued a notification in 2007 granting the minority educational institution tag to madarsas. “The next year, the government enacted the Madarsa Service Commission Act, 2008,” Sahil added.

The lawyer said that according to Article 30 of the Constitution, teachers and non-teaching staff of minority educational institutions would be recruited by the individual managing committees, not by any commission set up by the government.

“In the 76 Christian educational institutions (in Bengal), teachers and non-teaching staff are recruited by the managing committees. So, why this discrimination in case of madarsas?” Sahil asked.

When Justice Chakrabarti asked if the Trinamul government had changed the policy of recruitment to madarsas, government pleader Ashok Banerjee said: “No. The Madarsa Service Commission Act is still applicable in the state.”