Friday, November 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Keep off admissions to MEIs, SC tells govt

New Delhi, October 31
In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court today ruled that the minorities had an unfettered right to establish an educational institution of their choice, but the right to administer these was not absolute as the state could apply regulatory measures for educational excellence even when these were unaided.

An 11-judge constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal by a 6:5 majority ruled that the state could not regulate the admission of students to unaided minority educational institutions (MEIs) like schools and undergraduate colleges, where the scope of merit-based selection was practically nil so long as the same was done transparently.

“The right to admit students being an essential facet of the right to administer educational institutions of their choice, as contemplated under Article 30 of the Constitution, the state government or the university may not be entitled to interfere with that right, so long as the admission to the unaided MEI is on a transparent basis and the merit is adequately taken care of,” the Chief Justice, writing for himself and five other judges said.

“The right to administer, not being absolute, there could be regulatory measures for ensuring educational standards and maintaining excellence thereof, and it is more so in the matter of admission to professional institutions,” he said.

The five judges, who agreed with the CJI were Mr Justice G.B. Pattanaik, Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu, Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Mr Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi and Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat.

The other five judges gave four separate judgements, but mostly agreed with the majority judgement except in the case of regulations on the unaided MEIs.

Mr Justice Kirpal said a minority institution did not cease to be a MEI the moment it received government aid. However, he said the moment it received aid, it had to admit a reasonable number of non-minority students so as not to infringe the right under Article 29 (2), he added.

“An aided MEI would be entitled to have the right of admission of students belonging to the minority group and at the same time would be required to admit a reasonable extent of non-minority students, so that the rights under Article 30 (1) are not substantially impaired and further the citizen’s rights under Article 29 (2) are not infringed,” the CJI said.

While Article 30 (1) provides that “all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”, Article 29 (2) says “No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the state or receiving aid out of state funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.” PTI

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