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Rights of Minority Institutes not Absolute: SC

  • 30 Apr 2020
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court of India gave its judgement on the admission criteria of minority institutions.

  • It held that National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is mandatory for admission to all the medical colleges and the right of minority institutions is not absolute and is amenable to regulation.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • Few colleges challenged the notifications issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Dental Council of India (DCI) under Sections 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956 and the Dentists Act of 1948 for uniform entrance examinations.
    • The management of such minority-run medical institutions held that uniformly bringing them under the ambit of NEET would be a violation of their fundamental right to occupation, trade and business [Article 19(1)(g)] and would violate their fundamental rights of religious freedom and to manage their religious affairs (Article 25-28) and to administer their institutions (Article 30).
    • Few petitioners claimed that rules notified by Andhra Pradesh government are violative of rights of minority educational institutions under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.
  • Highlights of the Judgement:
    • The SC held that the fundamental and religious rights of minorities and rights available under Article 30 are not violated by provisions carved out in Section 10D of the MCI and Dentists Act.
    • The right to freedom of trade or business is not absolute. It is subject to reasonable restriction in the interest of the students’ community to promote merit, recognition of excellence, and to curb the malpractices. A uniform entrance test qualifies the test of proportionality and is reasonable.
    • The NEET is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities and it would apply for both aided and unaided medical colleges administered by minorities.
      • NEET was started to check several malpractices in the medical education, to prevent capitation fee by admitting students which are lower in merit and to prevent exploitation, profiteering, and commercialisation of education.
    • Uniform entrance exams will ensure improvement in future public health by encouraging merit which will further enhance the Directive Principles enshrined in the Constitution.
    • The SC also upheld rules framed by the Andhra Pradesh government making Secondary School Certificate (SSC)/Transfer Certificate (TC) the basis for a candidate’s claim of minority status for admission to B.Ed courses. The rules also require minority institutions to allot vacant seats under management quota to non-minority students on merit.
    • Major Issues:
      • It was noted that conversion certificates were obtained by students from other communities for admission under the management quota.
      • According to statistical data, minority seats are highly disproportionate and far in excess due to the number of colleges and total seats availability.
    • Upholding the Andhra Pradesh government’s rules will safeguard the interests of genuine minority students against the false overnight conversions.
    • Providing admission to non-minority students will also not interfere with the right of a Minority Educational Institution to manage its affairs for the benefit of the Minority Community.

Minority Educational Institutions

  • The term ‘minority’ has not been defined anywhere in the Constitution.
  • Article 30 grants the following rights to minorities, whether religious or linguistic:
    • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
    • The compensation amount fixed by the State for the compulsory acquisition of any property of a minority educational institution shall not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed to them. (added by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978)
    • In granting aid, the State shall not discriminate against any educational institution managed by a minority.
  • Minority educational institutions are of three types:
    • Institutions that seek recognition as well as aid from the State.
    • Institutions that seek only recognition from the State and not aid.
    • Institutions that neither seek recognition nor aid from the State.
  • The institutions of first and second type are subject to the regulatory power of the state with regard to syllabus prescription, academic standards, discipline, sanitation, employment of teaching staff and so on. The institutions of third type are free to administer their affairs but subject to operation of general laws like contract law, labour law, industrial law, tax law, economic regulations, and so on.
  • The SC allowed the minority educational institutions to admit eligible students of their choice and to set up a reasonable fee structure in the judgement delivered in the Secretary of Malankara Syrian Catholic College case (2007).
    • However, it also held that the right to establish and administer educational institutions is not absolute. Nor does it include the right to maladminister.
    • There can be regulatory measures for ensuring educational character and standards and maintaining academic excellence.

Source: TH/IE

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