Wednesday, April 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hearing on minorities’ rights begins

New Delhi, April 2
In what would result in a landmark ruling, an 11-judge Bench of the Supreme Court today began hearing one of the controversial issues in the country — the right of the minority to establish and administer educational institutions.

The Bench comprised Mr Justice B.N. Kirpal, Mr Justice V.N. Khare, Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu, Mr Justice Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri, Mr Justice Ruma Pal, Mr Justice S.N. Variava, Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Mr Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi, Mr Justice Ashok Bhan and Mr Justice Arijit Passayat.

The Bench, specially constituted to hear a matter pending since 1993, would also decide a question as to “what was meant by the expression ‘religion’ in Article 30(1)” of the Constitution.

This is for the second time in 30 years that an 11-judge Bench has been constituted to decide a constitutional issue.

The Bench would deliberate and decide, among other issues, the meaning of ‘’minorities and minority educational institution’’ and the criteria to determine whether an educational institution is a minority educational institution.

The Bench would reflect on the propriety of the decision of the apex court in the ‘St Stephens case’ — that Article 30 clothes a minority educational institution with the power to admit students by adopting its own method of selection and that the state or the affiliating university has no power to regulate admission of students belonging to the relevant minority to the extent of 50 per cent of its intake capacity.

Another important aspect to be examined by the Bench is whether or not the guidelines laid down in the ‘Unnikrishnan Case’ in respect of ‘free’ and ‘payment’ seats in medical and engineering colleges needed a ‘re-look’.

The chequered history of the case began in October 1993 with a five-judge Bench referring the matter to a seven-judge Bench framing three questions including “What is the meaning and content of the expression ‘minority’ in Article 30 of the Constitution?”.

The second question was relating to the determination of the expression “minority educational institution” while the third pertained to whether under Article 30 the minority educational institutions brooked no interference from the state or the affiliating university and whether they could admit students belonging to the relevant minority to the extent of 50 per cent of its intake capacity. PTI, UNIBack


Statute review report made public
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
The Constitution Review Commission headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah has recommended that in case of political breakdown necessitating invoking President’s rule, the state concerned should be given an opportunity to explain its position and redress the situation.

The commission, whose report was made public this evening after the Cabinet approval, has made 248 recommendations of which 58 recommendations involve amendment to the Constitution, 86 involve legislative measures and the rest involve executive action.

Regarding Article 356, the commission has recommended that the Article should be amended so to ensure that the state Legislative Assembly should not be dissolved either by the Governor or the President before the proclamation issued under Article 356(1) has been laid before Parliament and it has had an opportunity to consider it.

Further it has recommended that the question whether the ministry of a state has lost the confidence of the Legislative Assembly or not, should be decided only on the floor of the House and nowhere else.

If necessary, the Union Government should take the required steps, to enable the Legislative Assembly to meet and freely transact its business. The Governor should not be allowed to dismiss the ministry, so long as it enjoys the confidence of the House. It is only where a Chief Minister refuses to resign, after his ministry is defeated on a motion of no-confidence, that the Governor can dismiss the state government, it says.

In a situation of political breakdown, the Governor should explore all possibilities of having a government enjoying majority support in the Assembly. If it is not possible for such a government to be installed and if fresh elections can be held without avoidable delay, he should ask the outgoing ministry, (if there is one), to continue as a caretaker government, provided the ministry was defeated solely on an issue, unconnected with any allegations of maladministration or corruption and is agreeable to continue.

The Governor should then dissolve the Legislative Assembly, leaving the resolution of the constitutional crisis to the electorate, it has recommended.

As far as appointments of Governors are concerned, although the commission has asserted that the powers of the President in the matter of selection and appointment of Governors should not be diluted, it has recommended that the Governor of a state should be appointed by the President only after consultation with the Chief Minister of that state.

Normally the five-year term should be adhered to and removal or transfer should be made by following a similar procedure as for appointment i.e. after consultation with the Chief Minister of the state concerned, it says.

It has also opined that in selecting a Governor it should be borne in mind that he should be eminent in some field of life, should be a person from outside the state, should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the state and should be a person who has not taken too great a part in politics generally, and particularly in the recent past.

Under the “Resolution of Disputes” chapter, the commission has recommended that as river water disputes being important disputes between two or more states and/or the Union, they should be heard and disposed by a Bench of not less than three judges and if necessary, a Bench of five judges of the Supreme Court for the final disposal of the suit.Back

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