The Supreme Court on February 12, 2019 referred the petition seeking withdrawal of minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University to a seven-judge bench.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi referred the matter to the larger bench to determine the correctness of minority status of AMU and to define the parameters for granting minority status to the institution.
The Matter of Aligarh Muslim University’s Minority Status
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had moved a petition in the Supreme Court against a 2006 Allahabad High Court Judgement which stated that the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was not a minority institution. The university administration had also filed a separate petition against the High Court verdict.
In January 2006, the Allahabad High Court had struck down the provision of the Act by which the university was accorded the minority status.
However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Government in 2016 withdrew the petition saying that the University was not a minority institution.
The BJP cited the ruling of a five-judge Constitution bench in 1968 in the Aziz Basha case which held that AMU was a "central university" and not a minority institution. It was after this 1968 ruling that the AMU (Amendment) Act, 1981 came into force.
The AMU Act of 1981 grants AMU the minority status and Article 15 (5) of the Constitution exempts minority institutions from implementing constitutional reservations under the SC/ST category.
Earlier in July 2018, the Uttar Pradesh Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission ruled that the university was not a minority institution and asked it to explain why it does not provide reservation to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.