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January 17 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The recent observations by the Supreme Court (SC) on the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) bring attention to the long-standing dispute surrounding its character. The SC asserted that the administration of an educational institution regulated by a statute doesn’t affect its minority status. This insight delves into the historical context, legal challenges, and the present-day observations regarding AMU’s minority status.


History of AMU:

Roots of AMU:

  • Founded in 1875 as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental (MOA) College by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to address Muslim educational backwardness.
  • Attained University status in 1920 through an Act of the Indian Legislative Council, becoming Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

Origin of Dispute:

  • Dispute emerged in 1967 due to amendments in 1951 and 1965, challenging the exclusive Muslim character of AMU.
  • Legal challenges argued that Muslims, having initiated AMU, had the right to manage it.

Supreme Court’s Ruling (1967):

  • SC held that AMU, being a central university, couldn’t be considered a minority institution.
  • Emphasized that the Act establishing AMU aimed at government recognition, not solely rooted in Muslim minority efforts.

Why Does the Dispute Persist?

1981 Amendment:

  • Nationwide protests by Muslims led to the 1981 amendment affirming AMU’s minority status.
  • Union government added Section 2(l) and Subsection 5(2)(c) to explicitly recognize its minority status.

Subsequent Challenges:

  • In 2005, AMU reserved medical course seats for Muslims, nullified by the Allahabad High Court, citing the 1967 SC ruling.
  • In 2016, the Union government withdrew its appeal, citing contradictions with the principles of a secular state.
  • In 2019, the matter was referred to a seven-judge Bench by the SC.

Observations of the Supreme Court:

Doesn’t Lose Minority Status if Regulated by Statute:

  • SC emphasized that a statute regulating an institution doesn’t diminish its minority status.
  • Article 30 of the Constitution doesn’t mandate exclusive administration by the minority community.

Can have Secular Administration:

  • Minority institutions can have a secular administration and admit students from diverse communities.
  • The institution need not exclusively offer religious courses.

Majority Community in Administration:

  • Presence of office-bearers from the majority community doesn’t dilute the minority character.

Supreme Court Cases Related to Minority Community:

  • TMA Pai Case: Religious and linguistic minorities considered state-wise for Article 30 purposes.
  • Bal Patil Case: Clarification in 2005 that the unit for determining minority status would be the ‘state.’
  • Inamdar Case: SC ruled that the state cannot impose its reservation policy on minority and non-minority unaided private colleges.

Constitutional and Statutory Provisions:

  • Article 29: Protects the right of any section of citizens having a distinct language, script, or culture. Applies to both religious and linguistic minorities.
  • Article 30 (1): Empowers religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. Doesn’t aim to ghettoize the minority; it reinforces the commitment to aid Minority Institutions without discrimination.
  • Other Relevant Articles: Articles 25, 26, 27, and 28 collectively ensure freedom of religion, establishment of religious institutions, tax exemption, and freedom in educational institutions.
  • National Commission for Minorities (NCM): Established in 1992 to advise the government on minority welfare. Initially covered Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and later Jains in 2014.


The SC’s recent observations on AMU’s minority status provide a nuanced perspective on the interaction between statutory regulations and minority character. Understanding the historical context, legal battles, and constitutional provisions regarding minority institutions is crucial. While the AMU case reflects a specific instance, it intertwines with broader principles safeguarded by the Constitution for the protection and development of minority communities in India.

Mains Question:

  1. Can the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) ensure the application of constitutional reservations for Scheduled Castes within religious minority institutions? Evaluate the scenario. (150 WORDS).


January 17
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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