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Supreme Court accepts plea against state-funded madrassas being abolished

In an appeal against a Gauhati High Court judgment upholding the Assam Repealing Act of 2020, the Supreme Court on Tuesday requested the Assam government’s response.

In response to a lawsuit challenging the judgement that effectively converted existing provincialized madrasas (Islamic schools) in the State of Assam into regular government schools, a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar issued a notice.

In the petition, attorney Adeel Ahmed has contested the High Court of Guwahati’s ruling from February 4, 2022, which upheld the legality of the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 (which was repealed by the Act of 2020), as well as all related government orders, including the Notification from February 12, 2021.

The high court noted that because madrassas are government schools that are entirely supported by the state due to provincialization, they are prohibited from teaching religion under Article 28(1) of the Constitution and cannot do so.

Imad Uddin Barbhuiya is one of the petitioners, and they claim that the high court incorrectly stated that the petitioner madrassas cannot be allowed to teach religion because they are government schools.

The petition claims that the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 (which was repealed by the Act of 2020) only applied to the state’s obligation to pay salaries and other benefits to the teaching and non-teaching staff employed in madrassas, as well as to manage and administer these institutions.

According to the petition, the madrassas’ land and buildings are cared for by the petitioners, and they are also responsible for paying for their own furnishings and electrical costs. The petitioner claimed that such infringement on the petitioner madrassas’ intellectual rights without payment of adequate compensation is a clear violation of Article 30(1A) of the Indian Constitution.

The petitioner’s madrassas would cease to exist if the impugned judgement were to be implemented, and it would also preclude them from admitting students for the previous academic year’s courses.

In accordance with the council of ministers’ decision, the Principal Secretary of the Secondary Education Department issued a number of instructions through a notification, including: converting madrassas into high schools and placing them under the State Education Board; withdrawing subjects on theological topics like the Quran; removing the name “Madrassa”; prohibiting new enrollment for previous courses beginning on April 1, 2021; and directing teachers of theological subjects to follow certain guidelines.

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra


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