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NCMEI Challenges Southern States’ Minority Status Criteria

Radiance News Service
Nov. 4, 2023
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has challenged the criteria established by four southern states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka – for conferring minority status to educational institutions.
These states’ current criteria dictate that an educational institution can attain minority status if it enrolls between 25% to 50% of its students from the Muslim minority community. However, NCMEI has urged these states to align with its own criteria, which stipulate that institutions seeking minority status should admit a percentage of students from the Muslim community that corresponds to its population share in the respective state.

Tamil Nadu has mandated a 50% enrollment requirement from the minority Muslim community since 2018, while Telangana and Karnataka have set this figure at 30% and 25%, respectively.

During an October 16 meeting, an NCMEI member expressed dissatisfaction with the existing criteria, contending that they would hinder institutions from attaining minority status and discourage philanthropic efforts to establish them.

Minority communities are empowered under the Constitution to establish and administer educational institutions to promote education within their communities. These institutions are exempt from other reservation policies and can reserve up to 50% of their seats for students from their community. Nevertheless, it has been observed that institutions created by the minority community often enroll students from other communities.

A Supreme Court advocate representing various petitioner institutions before the NCMEI, explained the challenges of the current criteria. The governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have announced their intention to revoke school recognition in cases where the required enrollment percentage from specific communities is not met. For example, communities such as Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs, whose representation in the population is minimal; for them to achieve a 50% enrollment from any of their respective communities is almost impossible.

Reportedly, officials from the four states have agreed to reconsider their criteria during the NCMEI meeting.

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