NEW DELHI: The row over minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Monday intensified with the Centre informing the Supreme Court that it would withdraw the appeal filed by the earlier government challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict holding the AMU as a non-minority institution. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Bench headed by Justice J S Khehar, “I changed my mind two months ago. I am distancing myself from the AMU,” on the Centre’s decision to withdraw the appeal and distance itself from the AMU.
Explaining the reason behind the Centre’s stand, the top law officer submitted that since the AMU was set up by a Central Act, in 1967, a five-judge Constitution Bench had in the Aziz Basha judgment held it as a Central university and not a minority institution. He added that in 1981, an amendment was brought to accord the university minority status which was held unconstitutional by the HC. “You cannot override the Aziz Basha judgment. Union of India’s stand is that according minority status to AMU would be contrary to the Aziz Basha judgment and it still holds good,” Rohatgi told the Bench, which permitted the Centre to file an application along with an affidavit within eight weeks to withdraw the appeal filed by it.
The AMU, represented by senior counsel P P Rao, will file the counter-affidavit to the Centre’s stand.
The case dates back to 2006 when the Allahabad High Court had struck down the provision of the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981, by which the university was accorded minority status. The Division Bench of the High Court had upheld the order of its single judge passed in 2005 by which it termed as unconstitutional the granting of minority status to the AMU and 50 per cent reservation to Muslims in 2004.
The issue of AMU’s minority status also came up before another Bench headed by CJI T S Thakur, which was hearing a separate matter on the challenge of appointment of AMU V-C Lt General (retd) Zameeruddin Shah.
Govt okay with hc’s ’06 ruling
The case dates back to 2006 when the Allahabad High Court had struck down the provision of the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981, by which the university was accorded minority status.