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HomeOPINIONMalicious propaganda against Allahabad HC judgment on Madarsas

Malicious propaganda against Allahabad HC judgment on Madarsas

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Malicious propaganda against Allahabad HC judgment on Madarsas

In a landmark judgment on March 22, 2024, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court struck down the unconstitutional Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004 enacted by the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government. In the case of Anshuman Singh Rathore along with five other cases, the HC ruled that the State has no power to create a board for religious education. The HC questioned the state government’s powers to establish a board for school education for a particular religion or philosophy, which violates Articles 14, 21 and 21-A of the Constitution and Section 22 of the University Grants Commission Act (UGC), 1956.

  • Madarsa education, by the very definition in Section 2(f) of the Act, includes “Islamic studies”, which, in turn, compulsorily includes Quran, Sunni and Shia theology, etc.
  • Madarsa teachers possessing degrees from private institutions and are hired without first recognizing those institutions.
  • The purpose of the Madarsa Act was only to promote and provide education on Islam, its prescriptions, instructions and philosophy and to spread the same.
  • Even as the State has sufficient power to frame laws with regard to education at the school level, “The State has no power to create a board for religious education or to establish a board for school education only for a particular religion and philosophy associated with it.”
  • “Any such action on the part of the State violates the principles of secularism, which is in the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India. The same also violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which provides for equal treatment to every person by the State.”
  • Regarding Article 25 (freedom of religion) and 29 (protection of interests of minorities), the Court held that they relate to the rights of the citizens and not those of the State.
  • Providing education is one of the primary duties of the State, it is thus bound to remain secular while exercising its powers in the said field.
  • Regarding Article 30, the Court said that it only protects the rights of minorities to establish and administer their educational institutions. It has no application on the exercise of power by the State government in establishing an education board, which is not an educational institution in any case.
  • Based on the syllabus in the madarsas, the Court said that education under the Madarsa Act was certainly not equivalent to the education being imparted to the students of other regular educational institutions recognised by the state Primary and High School and Intermediate boards. Teaching merely one religion and a few languages, without any study of modern subjects, cannot be called quality education.
  • Hence, denial of the same quality of the education by the Madarsa Board amounts to a violation of both Article 21-A as well as Article 21.
  • The Court also said that the State could not hide behind the lame excuse that it is fulfilling its duty by providing traditional education at a nominal fee.
  • The state government has been directed to take steps forthwith for accommodating madarsa students in regular schools recognised under the Primary Education and High School and Intermediate Education boards of Uttar Pradesh.
law

Stung by the judgment, the left-liberal and Muslim right wing journalists launched a vicious propaganda campaign against the judgment, which is both inflammatory and malicious. A Muslim journalist with 1.2 million followers posted on her X handle (formerly Twitter), citing an article in the CNN: “Court ruling effectively outlaws Islamic schools in India’s most populous state”. https://edition.cnn.com/2024/03/24/india/india-madrasa-court-ruling-uttar-pradesh-intl-hnk/index.html

From her side, she added, “They are openly building a Hindu Rashtra where PM presided over inauguration of the temple but shutting down madrasas in the name of ‘secularism’.” She further says, “Friday’s court order affects 2.7 million students and 10,000 teachers in 25,000 madarsas, Reuters reported, citing Iftikhar Ahmed Javed, the head of the board of madrasa education in the state.” (Incidentally, the correct word is ‘madrisa’ and its plural is ‘madaaris’)

The malicious and inflammatory intent in the aforesaid post on X platform is dissected below.

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First, it is factually wrong to say that the madarsas have been effectively outlawed. No, they have not been outlawed. Minorities are still free to run their educational institutions/madarsas under Article 30 of the Constitution. If they are so keen that madarsas imparting Islamic religious education must run at any cost, they must find legitimate sources of funding (such as, crowd funding) other than government funding and run them. Nothing prevents them. The Court has, however, outlawed their state-funding in view of the education they impart. Surely, I do not think that they have the gall to say that insist on running an unconstitutional thing and that too at state expense, that is, taxpayers’ money.

It may be recalled that in January 2024, in the matter of the Aligarh Muslim University’s minority status, a seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has already ruled that no government-funded minority institution can provide religious teaching. Even partially funded institutions enforce compulsory religious teaching. The SC noted that the Rs. 30 lakh reserve fund created by multiple communities does not establish minority status for the AMU as it receives Rs. 1,570 crore grant annually. Once a minority institution gets recognition from government, it cannot insist on compulsory religious teaching to its students.

SC

Second, it is the order of a constitutional court, not of the government. It was a state government that had created the aforesaid Act, and which was held to be unconstitutional. This is not for the first time that a law made by a state or union government has been held to be unconstitutional. Why the outrage over this matter in particular? How can they link a court order with the imaginary intent of the current government? This amounts to accusing both the court and the central government of mal-intention.

Third, from where does the idea of Hindu Rashtra come into picture here? Hindu Rashtra was not an issue in the case. This absurd insinuation could have been tolerated even for the sake of argument had there been a court ruling in existence that while Hindu religious education could be imparted in government-aided schools, Islamic religious education could not be imparted in them. To talk of Hindu Rashtra without context is clearly mala fide.

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For their information, in 2022, the Gujarat state government had decided that Bhagvad Gita will be taught to students from 6th standard to 12th. A resolution to that effect was passed in the Assembly in February 2024 also. However, a petition opposing it was filed by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) in the name of secularism in July 2022 itself. By the time of writing this, as per information available in public domain, the Gujarat High Court had not given a verdict in the matter.

Fourth, from where does the PM come into picture in the case? On what ground he has been dragged into it? She says, “They are openly building a Hindu Rashtra where PM presided over inauguration of the temple but shutting down madrasas in the name of ‘secularism’.” Who is this ‘they’ she is talking of? Obviously, it is not the HC. This means she means the political executive or the BJP. The PM himself has never spoken of the Hindu Rashtra. While certain leaders of BJP might have individually spoken of Hindu Rashtra, the party has steered clear of officially declaring it as its objective.

Fifth, the PM’s participation in the Pran-Pratishtha function of the Ram Janm Bhoomi Temple at Ayodhya on January 22 (which she calls its inauguration), has nothing to do with this case. He has not ordered ‘shutting down’ of the madarsas. The High Court has done it and the Court has invoked secularism, not the PM. Dragging PM into it is clearly malicious.

Sixth, the Ram Janm Bhoomi Temple is not a government temple nor has the government given any money to it. It is constructed from public donations made to and managed by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. There is nothing wrong in the PM attending an important religious function there in exercising his fundamental rights as a Hindu citizen. Had not Muslims who have held high constitutional posts in the past been attending to Muslim religious functions and going to mosques for offering namaz while in office? Was their secularism ever questioned on account of that?

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Seventh, there is no comparison between a private temple and a madarsa receiving government funding. It is absurd to place them side-by-side.  

Eighth, by insinuating that 2.7 million students would be left in the lurch and that 10,000 teachers would lose their jobs, the intention is clearly to instigate the Muslims for such a ‘harsh and unjust act’. An article on the subject speaks of ‘crisis for the students as well as the teachers’. It also raises irrelevant issues like the fate of the government lands and buildings housing the madarsas. This is ridiculous because resolving them is an administrative function of the state government, not of the High Court. It also quotes a madarsa teacher Faiyaz Ahmed Misbahi lamenting how the government would accommodate the madrasa students and provide them quality education when it was already struggling to do with regular students. He means to say that if something illegal is going on, it must be allowed to go on merely because a better but legal alternative is not at hand. This is so ridiculous that it does not warrant any comment.

Also Read: The 3 laws are the copy-paste versions of the IPC, Evidence Act and CrPC

The figures cited are also misleading. According to a statement of Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed Javed, chairman UP state Madrasa Education Board in July 2023, about one lakh students study in 558 government-aided madarsas. The High Court has already provided for them. Some 19 lakh students study in 16,513 madarsas merely recognized by the Board, while some seven lakh study in about 8,500 unrecognized madarsas. There is no reason to bother about the students and madarsas, which are not government-aided.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Attributing ulterior motives to the court, albeit indirectly, is contempt. If the left-liberals and Muslim Right wing journalists have any objection on the merit of the High Court judgment, they can very well go to the Supreme Court in appeal. If they choose not to appeal, they have no option but to accept it quietly.

However, instead of doing that, they have launched a malicious and inflammatory campaign replete with misleading information. Their obvious target readership is primarily Muslims and all those people in India and abroad who being not conversant with legal nuances of the issue are likely to be misled into believing that things in India have come to such a pass that even constitutional courts are giving judgments that are biased in favour of the Hindus, and that there is a government which has an ulterior agenda of establishing a Hindu Rashtra through such things. In other words, they are casting aspersion on the integrity of a constitutional court as well as the central government; the central government for ‘manipulating’ the court, and the court for allowing itself to be manipulated. Such an insinuation warrants legal action against them under Sections 153A, 505(1) (b), 505(2), and 505 (1)(c) IPC as well as  contempt of court.

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Dr N C Asthana IPS (Retd)
Dr N C Asthana IPS (Retd)
Dr. N. C. Asthana, IPS (Retd) is a former DGP of Kerala and ADG BSF/CRPF. Of the 51 books that he has authored, 20 are on terrorism, counter-terrorism, defense, strategic studies, military science, and internal security, etc. They have been reviewed at very high levels in the world and are regularly cited for authority in the research works at some of the most prestigious professional institutions of the world such as the US Army Command & General Staff College and Frunze Military Academy, Russia. The views expressed are his own.

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