The announcement was made in forms of advertisements inserted in a Gujarati newspaper by the state government’s social welfare department a few days ago.
The declaration came following the Supreme Court on May 6 declining to stay an order of the Gujarat high court that had held the constitutional validity of the scheme.
The scheme is meant for poor students belonging to five religious minority communities-Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.
Each student whose parents income is annually Rs. 1 lakh or less, is entitled to get Rs. 850 per annum under the scheme. While 75 per cent of it is contributed by the central government, the remaining 25 per cent is to be met by the state government.
But Narendra Modi government of the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed the scheme saying that it discriminated against students of other religious communities and hence, it was unconstitutional. But a five-judge bench of the high court on February 15, 2013, ordered to implement the scheme saying the scheme was not unconstitutional. The order was given on a public interest petition filed by a Muslim social activist and Congress party leader Adam Chaki.
The state government subsequently moved the Supreme Court, challenging the high court order. The apex court on May 6, 2013, admitted the appeal, it refused to stay the HC order.
Commenting on the state government’s move to implement it now, Chaki said that the government was bound to implement as the apex court had not granted stay on high court order and non-implementation would have attracted action under contempt of court proceedings. Modi government is already facing cases against its police officials for extra-judicial killing of Muslims post-2002. While one of its former ministers Maya Kodnani is serving 28 years of sentence in a case of mass massacre of Muslims in 2002, another former minister Amit Shah is on bail in fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Commenting on it, human rights activist J S Bandukwala said that it was unfortunate that the state government had to wait for court order to implement scholarship for poor minority students. This, he said, indicated the biased mindset of the state government against minorities.