Delhi HC seeks Jamia’s stand in plea against ‘religion-based reservation’ in staff recruitment
The Delhi High Court has requested a response from Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) regarding a petition that challenges the university's decision to implement religion-based reservation in teaching and non-teaching positions while eliminating the quota for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories. Justice Vikas Mahajan, presiding over a vacation bench, acknowledged the importance of the matter and instructed JMI and the Centre to submit their response to the petition within three weeks. The court clarified that it is not imposing a stay on the hiring process but directed that one post each be kept vacant for the petitioners, Ram Niwas Singh and Sanjay Kumar Meena, under the categories they have applied for as per the advertisement. In its statement, the court said, "It appears that the matter requires consideration. Issue notice. Let counter affidavit be filed within three weeks. In the meanwhile, the Respondent University is directed to keep one post vacant for the petitioners in each category (i.e. (i) Assistant Registrar, (ii) Section Officer and (iii) LDC (lower division clerk)), under which they have applied."
Previously, the court had sought JMI's response to the same petition, which requested an expedited hearing. The petitioners, Singh and Meena, belong to the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) communities, respectively. They argue that the resolution passed by JMI's Executive Council on June 23, 2014, should be nullified as it was enacted without following proper legal procedures. The petitioners also requested a stay on the recruitment process for 241 non-teaching positions, which currently lacks reservation for SC and ST candidates. Representing JMI, standing counsel Pritish Sabharwal stated that as a minority institution, JMI is not obligated to adhere to the reservation policy for SC/ST.
The petitioners contend that the exclusion of SC/ST candidates from reservation is a violation of the constitutional mandate, alleging that JMI has arbitrarily abolished reservation for SC/ST in the appointment and promotion of non-teaching staff. The petition further asserts that the resolution to abolish SC/ST reservation was never approved by the Visitor (President of India) and has not been published in the official gazette or presented before the Parliament. Referring to a resolution passed by the Executive Council in 2014, following a declaration by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions recognizing JMI as a minority university, the petition seeks to declare the Executive Council's resolution null and void, arguing that it contravenes Article 29(2) of the Indian Constitution and the principles of secularism. The petition also questions the validity of the minority commission's order recognizing JMI as a minority institution. Additionally, the petitioners argue that they will face significant prejudice and irreparable hardship if the recruitment process for the advertised posts concludes without proper consideration of their reservations.