HC seeks Jamia’s stand on early hearing of plea against religion-based reservation

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the stand of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on a plea seeking early hearing of a petition challenging its decision to approve religion-based reservation in teaching and non-teaching posts while abolishing the quota under the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories.

The petition has sought directions to quash a resolution dated June 23, 2014 adopted by the Executive Council of JMI to this effect for having been passed without due process of law.

A vacation bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh listed on June 14 the application which seeks to advance the date of hearing fixed for July 7.

Senior advocate Arun Bhardwaj appeared for the petitioners and sought urgent hearing as well as a stay on an April advertisement inviting applications for 241 non-teaching posts without any reservation for SC and ST candidates.

JMI standing counsel Pritish Sabharwal defended the existing framework and said being a minority institution, the university was not bound by the reservation policy for SC/ST.

Petitioners Ram Niwas Singh and Sanjay Kumar Meena, who belong to the SC and ST community, respectively, stated in the petition that the exclusion of SC/ST category candidates from reservation was a wrong committed against the constitutional mandate.

The petition, filed through lawyer Ritu Bhardwaj, alleged JMI has arbitrarily abrogated the reservation under SC and ST categories in appointment and promotion of non-teaching staff.

The petition said JMI was a central university, and the resolution for abrogating the SC/ST reservation never received assent of the Visitor i.e. the President of India, and has also not been published in the official gazette or laid before the two houses of Parliament.

“In pursuance of the order dated 22.02.2011 passed by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (which declared the Respondent University as a Minority University), the Executive Council vide its Resolution…dated 23.06.2014 approved the religion based reservation in teaching and non-teaching recruitment/ promotion and consequently abolished the SC and ST reservation in teaching and non-teaching recruitment and promotions,” the petition said.

“Impugned resolution of Executive Council abrogating SC and ST reservation in teaching and non-teaching staff and in the matter of promotions must be declared null and void. The abrogation of the reservation extended to the SC/ST in non- teaching posts and in promotions as well, and the religion based reservation provided in respect of Muslim candidates is not only without jurisdiction but also in direct violation of Article 29 (2) of the Constitution of India,” it said.

The reservation extended on the basis of religious considerations is in violation of the principles of secularism and the order of the minority commission declaring JMI a minority institution also cannot be sustained, added the plea.

The petition said the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had in October last year prescribed suitable action to provide for reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the services of autonomous bodies/institutions including universities which are receiving grants-in-aid from the Government of India.

In the early hearing application, the petitioners, also represented by lawyers Akash Vajpai and Kanishk Kharbanda, said the petition was listed for hearing on June 2 but could not be taken up and was re-notified for July 7.

It added JMI has now begun the recruitment process for the advertised posts and petitioners will suffer grave prejudice and irreparable hardship if the process is concluded.

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