SC seeks Centre's reply on Jamiat's plea of arbitrary appointment to NCMEI

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday sought a response from the Centre on a plea of Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind which alleged arbitrariness in appointment of Chairperson and members of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) and non-representation of Sunni Muslims and Christians in it.

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act was enacted in 2006 to safeguard educational rights of the minorities enshrined in Article 30(1) of the Constitution which gives linguistic and religious minorities a fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

“Issue notice,” ordered a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, Navin Sinha and Indu Malhotra in the proceedings conducted through video conferencing. Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind, which is one of the leading organizations of Islamic scholars belonging to the Deobandi school of thought, in its plea said “the chairperson and the members have been appointed in an arbitrary manner without inviting applications by issuing advertisement. It is relevant to mention here that out of three members, two members are from Sikh community whereas, no person from Christian community or amongst Sunni Muslims was appointed as member of the commission.” The plea, filed through lawyer Wajeeh Shafiq, sought a direction to the Secretary of Union Education Ministry to appoint members of the NCMEI in place of the outgoing members.

“The petitioners are filing the present petition …to seek direction from this court to appoint Chairman and members of 'National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions' on the recommendations of the committee to be constituted by the Chief Justice Of India for their selection and appointment till the constitution of National Tribunals commission in order to maintain the independence of the judiciary,” it said.

Under the law, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions consists a Chairperson and three members to be nominated by the Central government.

“The panel advises the Central government or any state government on any question relating to the education of minorities that may be referred to it; may enquire, suo motu, or on a petition presented to it by any minority educational institution, or any person on its behal into complaints regarding deprivation or violation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice…,” it said.

It alleged out of four office bearers, no Sunni Muslim and Christian have been appointed in recent times and listed out the names of Chairperson and the members to the panel.

Baljeet Singh Mann was appointed as a member of the commission on December 4, 2015 and his term expired on December 3, 2020, it said, adding Naheed Abidi , a shia Muslim, was appointed as another member and her term expired on December 6, 2020.

The third member Jaspal Singh was appointed on June 15, 2018 and will continue as a member till June 14, 2023, the Muslim body said in its plea and added that on October 1, 2018, Justice Narendra Kumar Jain was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission and will remain in office till September 30, 2023. PTI SJK ABA MNL RKS RKS