New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked whether a university could be described as a minority institution as it allowed the central government to move an application withdrawing its appeal challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict that AMU being a central university was not a minority institution.
As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice C. Nagappan that the central government wanted to withdraw its earlier petition challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict, the bench gave it eight weeks' time to move the application.
It then gave four weeks time to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to file its reply to the government's withdrawal application and directed the listing of the matter upon court's reopening in July after summer vacation break.
The UPA government had moved the apex court contesting the high court verdict, but with change of guard and the NDA coming to power, there was a shift in the government's stand, which now said that the apex court's October 20, 1967 verdict in Azeez Bhasa case had held that the AMU was not a minority institution.
Earlier in the day on the issue of the appointment of Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah (retd.) as AMU's vice-chancellor, a bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit asked how could a university be a minority institution.
"We can understand that a college or a school is a minority institution but can a university be a minority institution," asked Chief Justice Thakur, while hearing a petition by Syed Abrar Ahmed challenging the October 16, 2015 judgment of the Allahabad High Court refusing to quash the appointment of Shah.
"This is what the court has to decide whether AMU is a minority institution and now the Centre is saying that it is not. We have said that Azeez Bhasha hold the grounds and AMU is not a minority institution", counsel told the court.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who represented one of the parties, said that earlier "government took a conscious decision that it is minority institution, now government has taken a conscious decision that it is not. Conscious decisions keep changing".