The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC clears air on minority institutions

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The Supreme Court has said non-minority institutions do not enjoy constitutional rights similar to those of minority — linguistic and religious — institutions.

While giving its interpretation of capitation fees, a five-judge Constitution bench said “the management of a minority educational institution cannot be taken over because of the protection given under Article 30” of the Constitution.

A state government or the Centre can take over the management of a non-minority institution.

“Minority educational institutions have preferential right to admit students of their own community/language. No such right exists so far as non-minority educational institutions are concerned,” it said.

The bench, however, explained: “We must not be understood to mean that even in national interest a minority institute cannot be closed down.” This means a minority institution can be closed down for alleged anti-national activities.

On the question of “whether private unaided professional colleges are entitled to fill in their seats to the extent of 100 per cent and, if not, to what extent”, the judges said that state governments can fix the quota in accordance with “local conditions”.

For this purpose, state governments will establish a committee headed by a retired judge of the high court who will be chosen by the chief justice of the state concerned. The retired judge will co-opt members and choose a professional member (a representative of the medical profession for medical colleges and a technical member for technical/engineering colleges). This committee will oversee and supervise a common entrance test to be conducted for all such colleges.

In this category also, unaided minority private professional colleges have the right to admit students of their community or language but then here too merit should be given priority. Further, what quota will be fixed for such students will be decided by state governments in accordance with “local needs”. If a state government wants to “exempt” an institution from the quota, it should go before the committee to convince it of the reasons.

“It is clarified that different percentages of quota for students to be admitted by the management in each minority or non-minority unaided professional colleges shall be separately fixed on the basis of their need by the respective state governments and in case of any dispute (regarding such fixing of quota percentage) it will be open to the management to approach the committee,” the judges said.

Justice S.B. Sinha wrote a separate judgment in which he disagreed with two points: the direction that “local needs” will be the basis to fix the quota for a state government and the interim order granting 50:50 quota to the state government and educational institutions for the current academic year.

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