Bengal madrassas move SC against verdict for appointment of teachers by commission

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said it will hear the plea next week.

Published: 08th January 2020 04:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th January 2020 04:56 PM   |  A+A-

A madrassa class in progress. (File Photo)


NEW DELHI: A madrassa managing committee of West Bengal on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging it's verdict upholding a law on the appointment of teachers by a commission for minority institutions.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said it will hear the plea next week.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for the managing committee -- Contai Rahamania High Madrasah, told the court the case needs to be heard by a larger bench as the challenged verdict is in conflict with a similar judgment on minority rights given earlier by a three-judge bench of the top court.

He told the apex court that the petitioner was the same organisation on whose plea the judgement of January 6 was pronounced.

A two-judge bench of the top court had on January 6 upheld a law framed by the West Bengal government in 2008 to constitute the Madrasah Service Commission for the appointment of teachers in madrassas, saying the selection of teachers and their nomination by the panel was not violative of the rights of minority educational institutions.

The apex court had held that the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008 ensured that the panel, comprising experts in the field, screened talent across the state, adopted a fair selection procedure and selected the best available candidates purely on the basis of merit.

It had said the commission also ensured that even while nominating the teachers, the interests of the minority institutions were taken care of.

The top court had said the state legislature took care to see that the composition of the commission would ensure compatibility of the teachers, who would be selected to impart education in the madrassa education system, which was also emphasised in the statement of objects and reasons.

"The statutory provisions thus seek to achieve excellence in education and also promote the interest of minority institutions," the top court had said.

Holding that the provisions of the Act were not violative of the rights of minority educational institutions, the apex court said that the selection of teachers and their nomination by the commission would satisfy national interests as well as the interests of such institutions.

"However, the additional feature in the present matter shows that the composition of the commission, with a special emphasis on persons having a profound knowledge in Islamic culture and theology, would ensure that the special needs and requirements of the minority educational institutions will always be taken care of and thus, the present case stands on a different footing.

"We hold that the provisions of the Commission Act are not violative of the rights of minority educational institutions on any count," it had said.

The top court said selection of meritorious students was accepted to be in national interest and a minority institution could not, in the name of right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution, disregard merit or merit-based selection of students.

It had set aside the Calcutta High Court verdict, which had held the legislation as unconstitutional.

Several petitions were filed in the Calcutta High Court challenging the validity of the law, contending that the government, which funds or provides aid to minority institutions, can formulate guidelines for appointments of teachers but cannot itself appoint them.

The high court had declared the Act unconstitutional, saying it was violative of Article 30, which stated that all minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

The high court verdict was challenged in the top court by teachers who were appointed under the new law.

The apex court, while agreeing to hear the batch of pleas challenging the high court verdict, had granted the petitioners interim relief and directed the state government not to remove the appointed teachers from their jobs till the final order.

In 2018, the top court had allowed the West Bengal government to fill the vacant posts subject to the final outcome of the case.

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