After the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), it is the UP SC/ST Commission that has swung into action.
There are at least a hundred different things that are wrong with the fact that the Republic of India, run by a secular Constitution, allows Aligarh Muslim University to be both a public institution and a minority institution at the same time. But one of the most shocking of these is the fact that AMU is able to use its minority status to deny reservation to SC/ST students as per established quotas.
Hopefully, that is beginning to change.
The Aligarh Muslim University has now received a notice from the UP SC/ST Commission demanding an explanation by August 8 this year. Mr Brij Lal, Chairman of the Commission, put it in very simple words:
“The AMU is not a minority institution. I have issued a notice to the AMU for not giving reservation to SC/STs. We have asked as to why SC/ST communities have not been given the benefits of reservation. Under what circumstances it has been done?”
A simple, straightforward question. Sadly, the answer to this question is the sum total of every single thing that is wrong with the hypocrisy that is “Indian secularism.”
As I explained in an earlier article, the fact that AMU is *not* a minority institution has been established in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Not once, but multiple times. As far back as 1967, the Supreme Court clearly ruled that AMU could not be a minority institution.
Instead of implementing the orders of the highest court of the land, our secular government went through multiple rounds of appeals against the decision. When they got tired of going around in circles, Parliament passed an act in 1981 subverting the Constitution and giving AMU its minority status. It took another 25 years for the Allahabad High Court to strike down this act.
But the story didn’t even end there, because the government kept “appealing” this new decision. Until the Modi government decided in 2016 to withdraw this ridiculous appeal.
So, that is where things stand today. AMU is not a minority institution. The Courts have decided this beyond all reasonable doubt. As such, by denying quotas to SC/ST students, the Aligarh Muslim University is existing as an extra-Constitutional institution. Not to mention spitting in the eye of social justice.
Fortunately, the chorus for justice is growing. The recent impetus came from UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath demanding that AMU (and other institutions like Jamia) reserve seats for students from deprived sections. This was followed by Ram Shankar Katheria, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), declaring that AMU would no longer receive Central Govt grants if it keeps ignoring the law of the land.
This change has been a long time coming. But the wheels of justice are finally in motion. Nothing less than the supremacy of the Constitution is at stake.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.