The long battle for the minority status of Jamia Millia Islamia ended on a good note Tuesday morning.
Jamia Milia Islamia University was today granted minority institution status by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, a first for any central university which will allow it to reserve up to 50 per cent seats for Muslims.
"We have no hesitation in holding that Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of the Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institution," chairman the commission Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui said in his judgement.
The varsity will no longer have to give reservation to SC and ST students following the ruling by the Commission, a quasi-judicial body, on the petitions by Jamia Students Union, Jamia Old Boys Association and Jamia Teaches Association filed in 2006 seeking minority status for the varsity.
Jamia became a Central University by an Act of Parliament in 1988.
Siddiqui said Jamia would continue to enjoy the Central University status and the only "minority central university" in the country given its unique character.
"We find and hold that Jamia Milia and Islamia is a minority educational institution covered under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India with section 2(G) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act," the judgement said.
The institute was founded even before the Constitution was in place, it said.
"No other reservation would be binding on the varsity," said counsel for the petitioners in the case Tarique Siddiqui, citing Article 15 (5) of the Constitution.
Jamia was established for the purpose of keeping Muslim education in Muslim hands, entirely free from external control. Thus the Muslim community brought Jamia into existence in the only manner in which a university could be brought into existence, the judgement said.
After delivering the judgement, Justice Siddiqui told reporters, "We decided the case within the legal parameters".
The Commission in its judgement held that: "on a conjoined reading of section 2(O) and 4 of the Jamia Milia Islamia Act along with the history and facts and events which led to the Establishment of Jamia, we have no hesitation in holding that Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of the Muslims and it never lost its identity as a Muslim minority educational institutions".
The other members of the commission are Mohinder Singh and Cyriac Thomas.
The intervener in the case was Confederation of Muslims Educational Institutions of India while the responders were the vice chancellor of Jamia, the HRD and Minority Affairs Ministry.
The Commission observed that "the history leads to one conclusion and one conclusion only that Jamia was established by Muslims, for Muslims, though non-Muslims could be admitted.
"The Muslim community brought the Jamia into existence in the only manner in which a university could be brought into existence," said the ruling, adding that they "provided lands, buildings and endowments for the Jamia, and without these, the Jamia as a body corporate would be an unreal abstraction."
It also pointed out that even Human Resource Development Ministry's has issued a directive reserving 50 per cent seats in the institution for the minority Muslim community.
"By issuing the said direction the HRD Ministry has impliedly recognised the factual position relating to the minority status of the Jamia," the NCMEI said.
The NCMEI held that the Supreme Court ruling in Aziz Basha case, which upheld the relevant law conferring central university status on Aligarh Muslim University, has no bearing on the case of Jamia Millia Islamia.
The NCMEI said that till enactment of relevant law for establishment of AMU as a central university in 1920, AMU existed only in form of a college - Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College and evidently it was not set up by Muslim community.
The Jamia Millia Islamia, however, was set up by Muslim community, said the MCMEI ruling, detailing the history of its establishment.
"In the instant case, the Jamia did not owe its very existence to a statute. As stated earlier, since its foundation in 1920 till enactment of the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, (in 1988) Jamia never lost its identity," the ruling said.
It added that "even prior to the enactment of the Act, Jamia had legal existence of its own."
Detailing Jamia's history, the ruling said, "It was founded in 1920 by the national leaders like Maulana Mohemmad Ali Jauhar and Hakim Ajmal Khan as they wanted the Muslims to keep their education in their own hands entirely free from governmental interference."
Hit by financial crisis in 1925, Jamia moved to Delhi, where it survived with support from leaders like Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. M A Ansari, Khwaja Abdul Majeed, Dr Zakir Husain, Abid Hussain and Prof Mohd Mujeeb etc.
In 1939, some Muslim teachers of the Jamia constituted a society and got it registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 as the Jamia Millia Islamia Society.
In 1962, the UGC accorded Jamia the status of a deemed university under the University Grants Commission Act and on persuasion of the Muslim Community, the Jamia was given the status of a Central University under the Jamia Millia Islamia Act, 1988.
JAMIA VC-REAX: "Jamia will remain secular institution in spirit"
Jamia Millia Islamia Vice Chancellor said the status of minority institution will put greater onus on the varsity to preserve its secular character.
"In proportion there are already nearly 50 per cent Muslims studying at the University, so the ruling will not change anything as far as that configuration is concerned," Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung said.
"Now, we will only be able to ensure that this continues, but little will change on the ground and ours has always been a secular institution in spirit, ever since it was established in 1920," he said.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) ruled that Jamia Millia Islamia was a minority institution, founded by the Muslims for the benefit of Muslims.
The ruling is a first for any central university that will allow it to reserve up to 50 per cent seats for Muslims.
"Jamia has always strived to maintain its secular and nationalist traditions, but this (ruling) puts a greater onus on us to ensure that the secular character of the University is maintained and enriched," he said.
Reacting to the announcement, Raja Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb termed it a "long-awaited justice" for the Muslim community, and urged the government to settle the issue of Aligarh Muslim University's minority status as well.
"I hope the Government of India will take a cue from this and also settle the issue of AMU on similar lines so that the minority community can get their rights and fulfil tne objective for which these institutions were established," said the independent MP.