Right of minorities to run educational institutions under Article 30 not absolute: Delhi High Court

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Stephens College

By Muslim Mirror Network

The Delhi High Court has ruled that under Article 30 of the Constitution, minorities’ right to establish and run educational institutions is not absolute and might be subject to reasonable constraints imposed by the state.

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Although Article 30 is written in absolute terms, the Court concluded that it is subject to regulations that cannot be justified as being for the benefit of society as a whole or in the interests of the State. The primary goals of these rules must be to safeguard the minority institution’s high standards of excellence and to advance the needs of the minority community.

“Regulations can be framed to prevent maladministration as well as for laying down standards of education, teaching, maintenance of discipline, public order, health, morality, etc.” the court said.

The Bench further stated that it is obvious from looking at the situation through the lens of constitutional aim that a minority institution’s right to manage its affairs is intended to ensure that the minority community is elevated to a position on par with the majority community.

The Court was considering several petitions concerning the admissions practises of St. Stephens College in Delhi. The College has filed a complaint with the Delhi High Court against the Delhi University’s letter ordering it to stop interviewing applicants for admission to the College’s undergraduate programme in the non-reserved category.

Additionally, St. Stephens was urged in the letter to use a single merit list for the admission of applicants from all Christian denominations.

The Court ruled that a minority institution’s fundamental right under Article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution cannot be extended to non-minority members.

As a result, it ordered St. Stephen’s to publish a new prospectus granting the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) score 100% weight for admission under the non-minority category to its undergraduate programmes.

“As a corollary, it could not have been the intent of the Constituent Assembly to allow minority institutions to implement its protectionist measures for the betterment of the minority community, and then extend this protection to the non-minority community. Such an interpretation of the provision under Article 30(1) would only defeat the purpose of the constitutional provision, which is to bring minority communities at par with the non-minority communities,” the court said.

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