A fine verdict by the Supreme Court
In My View

A fine verdict by the Supreme Court

P.C. Punnen

P.C. Punnen

Coming as it does, in the wake of the national discourse and upheaval on the Modi- Shah government's move on the Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill, the Supreme Court has ruled that Article 30(1) of the Constitution doesn't confer absolute right to the Minorities. In this context it is very important. The SC has reversed the High Court order in a case related to West Bengal madrasas which receive government funding.

The ruling was that Minority institutions can't run their schools and colleges as they wish. The institutions were hoping to prove that they have the absolute right to run their institutions as they please. The SC said the government as a major donor to the schools and colleges can have a say in the selection of students and teachers. This is a quite remarkable judgment which is of deep concern to the Minorities in Kerala. Naturally because there is plenty of money at stake, the government can insist on qualification of teachers but the right to appoint them vests with the minority institutions as per the constitution, says Father Jacob Pullickal, a leader of the Catholic Consortium. Dr. PA Fazal Gafoor, president of Muslim Educational Trust, says that there is government control on qualification and appointment of staff, their retirement age and their numbers. We have to consider them as playing down the SC judgment.

The SC judgment has been welcomed by all. Even the constitutional clause of Article 30 is doubtful whether it stands akin to national feelings. It is a matter to be debated ad nauseam. All educational institutions whether run by minority or majority communities should have the same rules, I would say.

The question of procedures and appointments has arisen frequently in the context of the state's role in education. To make matters worse, the state’s role in permitting Minority institutions becomes very important.

In this context, it is worth remembering Joseph Mundassery, the education minister in the first EMS government which granted salaries on time to the teachers of private institutions. This was not happening in all private schools and very often they were paid peanuts. This together with the Land Reforms Act of the government led to a mass protest which ended with the dismissal of the EMS ministry by the Centre. There are people who believe Jawaharlal Nehru didn't want the dismissal but his daughter Indira Gandhi as the Congress president, insisted on it, and it happened. It was condemned by the Jana Sangh, the forbearer of the BJP, and by Indira Gandhi's husband Feroze Gandhi.

It is very doubtful if the Centre will have the guts to do the same as they did with the EMS government. Hundreds of people are killed in states ruled by the BJP, the Congress and the opposition parties. Yet the government of their states continues.

The right to take disciplinary action against staffers has also not been accepted to be an unqualified right of the institutions that run schools and colleges. The institutions or colleges founded by the Britishers have been allegedly been run as a racket with money in full gain. No questions asked by the government led by the Marxists or by citizens of Kerala. It is very unfortunate. More unfortunate is the ruling sect's conduct that the Constitution permits it.

The Christians have many colleges, some of them have contributed immensely to the nation but some of them controlled by the uppermost in their religious sects are no better or perhaps worse than the colleges run by the Nairs and SNDP. Gone are the days when the people thought of some of the institutions run by them as God's gift. Today they are the devil's gift.

It is time that the great institutions namely Loyola College in Chennai, Madras Christian College and St. Stephens in Delhi are imitated by those who run the institutions in Kerala. It’s time, the CMS College, Kottayam , UC College Alwaye, and St. Berchmans College, Changanaserry at least thought of the Loyola and St. Stephens and Madras Christian College. It is common knowledge that lots of money is taken by illegal methods in the colleges and schools all over India for procuring teachers’ jobs. Regardless of the community, it's time we thought seriously about this malaise.

Waiting for the SC hearing on the petitions filed by numerous people challenging the validity of the Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill which I hope will be struck down with the Keshawanata Bharati case ruling as the model, the Keralites have a lot to worry about.

The trouble with the SC seems to be that it can be divided down the middle. Hereby hangs the hope of Kerala college mangers and politicians of all categories. Unfortunately, the Marxists who have stopped talking about the old doctrines, it is alleged, have a role in it too.

The Kerala Minorities should change their habit of running the institutions they inherited from the missionaries devoted to spreading literacy widely among the people. Alas Justice S. Arun Mishra and UU Lalith have said words with too many meanings which will, I think, be construed differently.

Depending on the Supreme Court verdict on the Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill the government may think of changes in Article 30. That should be welcomed by many except those who run some institutions in the name of God. The ball will be in the ruling parties court. Let us wait.