SC agrees to hear madrassa committee's plea against verdict on appointment of teachers

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a West Bengal-based madrassa managing committee's plea against its recent verdict upholding a law on the appointment of teachers by a commission for minority institutions.

The Contai Rahamania High Madrasah has claimed that the January 6 verdict by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court was contrary to an 11-judge bench's judgment that gave fundamental rights to minority institutions to appoint teachers.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said it will examine the matter, and issued notice to the West Bengal government and the Centre.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Salman Khurshid, appearing for Contai Rahamania High Madrasah, said it is mandatory for minority institutions to follow the statutory board created by the state.

The bench said it would be appropriate if the petitioner approaches the Calcutta High Court with the relief.

Dhavan said the problem is that after the high court's verdict, he would again have to come to the Supreme Court.

To this, the bench said the high court will go by the 11-judge bench's verdict instead of the recent two-judge bench verdict.

Dhavan said the issue is not limited to the appointment of a board by the state, but there is the larger issue of the fundamental right to appoint teachers by these institutions.

He said it would be appropriate if this court hears the matter and clears the ambiguity.

'This judgment (on January 6) is contrary to the fundamental rights given by the 11-judge bench in as much as it takes away my fundamental right to appoint teachers,' the madrassa managing committee's counsel said.

Just two days after the January 6 verdict, the Contai Rahamania High Madrasah had approached the apex court with a fresh writ petition challenging the judgment.

It had said the case needs to be heard by a larger bench as the challenged verdict is in conflict with a similar judgment on minority rights given earlier by the top court.

The petitioner, Contai Rahamania High Madrasah, is the same organisation on whose plea the January 6 judgment was pronounced.

The two-judge Supreme Court bench had upheld a law framed by the West Bengal government in 2008 to constitute the Madrasah Service Commission for appointment of teachers in madrassas.

It had said the selection of teachers and their nomination by the panel was not violative of the rights of the minority educational institutions.

The apex court had held that the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008, ensured that the panel, comprising experts in the field, screened talent across the state, adopted a fair selection procedure and selected the best available candidates purely on the basis of merit.

It had said the commission also ensured that even while nominating teachers, interests of the minority institutions are taken care of.

The top court had said the state legislature took care to see that the composition of the commission would ensure compatibility of teachers, who would be selected to impart education in the madrassa education system, which was also emphasised in the statement of objects and reasons.

'The statutory provisions thus seek to achieve excellence in education and also promote the interest of minority institutions,' the top court had said.

Holding that the provisions of the Act were not violative of the rights of minority educational institutions, the apex court said that the selection of teachers and their nomination by the commission would satisfy national interests as well as the interests of such institutions.

'However, the additional feature in the present matter shows that the composition of the commission, with a special emphasis on persons having a profound knowledge in Islamic culture and theology, would ensure that the special needs and requirements of the minority educational institutions will always be taken care of and thus, the present case stands on a different footing.

'We hold that the provisions of the Commission Act are not violative of the rights of minority educational institutions on any count,' it had said.

The top court said selection of meritorious students was accepted to be in national interest and a minority institution could not, in the name of right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution, disregard merit or merit-based selection of students.

It had set aside the Calcutta High Court verdict, which had held the legislation as unconstitutional. PTI MNL MNL ANB ANB