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Panel rejects proposal for minority universities in India
New Delhi, 25 May 2013: An Indian government-appointed panel has rejected the UPA government’s proposal to set up five minority universities, citing legal hurdles.
The committee, headed by Indian Council of Social Science Research chairman Sukhadeo Thorat, has suggested that the institutions be set up as central universities with their focus on minorities, instead of minority institutions as proposed.
The committee submitted its report to the minority affairs ministry last month, a senior official said.
Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan had set up the Thorat committee to suggest modalities for establishing the five minority universities.
The panel was to suggest the norms, curricula, affiliations and locations of the institutions.
After a series of meetings with legal experts, the committee concluded that parliament could not set up minority universities.
According to the Constitution, religious and linguistic minorities have the right to “establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”.
The Aligarh Muslim University and Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, which are considered minority institutions now, were originally established by minority groups to promote the education of the community in pre-Independence India.
They were given minority status later through acts of parliament, a source said.
According minority status to educational institutions has remained a controversial issue. Such a tag allows an institution to reserve up to 50 per cent seats for the minority community.
The Aligarh Muslim University’s status has been challenged in the Supreme Court, and Jamia’s in Delhi High Court.
The panel has suggested that informal arrangements be made by the universities to help minority communities by relaxing admission norms for minority students --- for instance, by awarding them grace marks in the entrance test.