Maulana Azad Education Foundation’s Continued Operation “Obsolete”: Centre To High Court

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Maulana Azad Education Foundation's Continued Operation 'Obsolete': Centre To High Court

The Centre has said there is a dedicated ministry executing schemes for the benefit of minorities.

New Delhi:

The Centre on Tuesday defended before the Delhi High Court its decision to dissolve Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF), saying its continued operation was “obsolete” when there is a dedicated ministry holistically executing schemes for the benefit of the minorities.

The central government, while responding to a petition challenging an order instructing MAEF, which provides assistance to students belonging to educationally backward minorities and institutions engaged in promoting education among them, to close down, said the foundation was established at a time when there was no Ministry of Minority Affairs.

It said there cannot be a perpetual monopoly over promotion of the minorities when the authorities concerned have taken a decision to dissolve the foundation as per law.

“Currently, a specialised ministry exists, equipped with adequate staff which has been effectively executing a range of initiatives tailored to meet the needs of the minority communities in a thorough and holistic manner. Given this context, the continued operation is rendered obsolete,” Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma told a bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna.

The ASG said the projects and initiatives formally conducted by the foundation have been integrated into or replaced by comparable initiatives of the ministry and the petitioners cannot dictate policy issues to the executive.

“There are now specialised schemes. So forking of benefits to minority communities is now point-focused. Whatever foundation did, could not do, should have done, ought to have done, is now subsumed in the ministry. And, anyway, it was 100 per cent government funding (for MAEF),” he stated.

The senior law officer of the central government said schemes worth thousands of crore of rupees have been introduced in the domain for education, skill development and infrastructure for the minorities as he claimed many projects initiated by the foundation were still incomplete.

“1,600 projects were initiated by them. 523 were incomplete till date. The ministry has undertaken 75,000 projects. The ministry conducted a gap analysis and various irregularities were found,” he said.

ASG Sharma also said the decision for its dissolution was taken in strict adherence to legal protocols.

“The fact of the matter is today the decision is given based on information given to the governing body. Unanimous decision to dissolve the society was reached by 12 of 15 members who took part in the deliberations,” he stated.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioners, contended that the decision to dissolve MAEF was not as per law.

In an interim order passed on March 7, the high court had directed the authorities to not act on their decision till the next date of hearing.

Petitioners Dr Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, Dr John Dayal and Daya Singh had approached the high court earlier this month against the February 7 order of the ministry which instructed the MAEF, set up in 1989, to carry out the closure process at the earliest and submit copy of the closure certificate issued by the Registrar of Societies of the Delhi government on completion of all procedures, as per extant laws.

The ministry’s order was issued in reference to a proposal received from the Central Waqf Council (CWC) on January 21 to close the MAEF.

The petitioners said in their PIL that the ministry’s order not only deprives the deserving students, especially girls, from availing the benefits of the schemes of the MAEF but is also without jurisdiction, completely malafide, arbitrary and a colourable exercise by authorities.

The petition, filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, claimed that such an abrupt, opaque and completely arbitrary decision to dismantle an almost four-decade-old institution and scavenge its assets and funds is bound to have an adverse impact on the lives of a number of students, schools and NGOs.

The matter will be heard next on Wednesday.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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