Saturday, April 20, 2024

Allahabad HC declares UP Board of Madarsa Education Act ‘unconstitutional’

The Allahabad High Court on Friday declared the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrasa Education Act, 2004, “unconstitutional”.

A division bench comprising Justice Vivek Chaudhary and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi repealed the act by terming it violative of the principle of secularism and asked the state government to accommodate current students in the formal schooling system.

The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by a person named Anshuman Singh Rathore.

UP Madrasa Education Board Chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Javed responded to the order and said the board would study the decision and decide the further course of action.    

“Now after 20 years, the Madrasa Education Act has been declared unconstitutional. Obviously, there has been some mistake somewhere. Our lawyers could not present their case properly before the court,” he added.

The petition had challenged the constitutionality of the UP Madarsa Board as well as objected to the management of the madrasa by the Minority Welfare Department, rather than the education department.

The petitioner and his counsel argued that the Madrasa Act violates the principles of secularism, and fails to provide compulsory and quality education up to the age of 14 years/Class-VIII to the children in madrasas, as is mandatorily under Article 21-A. 

“Thus, it violates the Fundamental Rights of the students of the madrasas,” they claimed.

Opposing the petitioners, the state government counsel said that no doubt the Madarsa Board provides religious education as well as religious instructions to the students, but the State has sufficient power to impart such education under the Constitution of India and is rightly permitting such education.

“Providing religious education and instructions is not barred or illegal. For such religious education a separate Board is necessarily required, which needs to have members of such particular religion,” he said.

Senior All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali said the order should be challenged in the apex Court.

There are about 25,000 madrasas in Uttar Pradesh of which 16,500 are recognised by the Uttar Pradesh Madrasa Education Board. Of them, 560 madrasas receive grants from the government. Apart from this, there are 8,500 unrecognised madrasas in the state.

Javed, who heads the UP madrasa board, said that the High Court’s order will have a major impact on government-aided madrassas. If the Madrasa Education Act is repealed, teachers of aided madrasas will become unemployed, he said.

“In 2004, the government itself enacted the Madrasa Education Act. Similarly, Sanskrit Education Council has also been formed in the state. The objective of both the boards was to promote languages like Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit,” he said.

When asked whether this decision of the High Court will be challenged in the Supreme Court, Javed said, “Now it is for the government to decide, because the court has given orders to it.”

AIMPLB member Farangi Mahali asserted that the Muslim community has established madrassas as per its constitutional rights, “just like there are Sanskrit schools”.

“Modern education is also being given in madrassas. If the Madrassa Education Act itself is abolished, then teachers of hundreds of madrassas in the state will become unemployed and there will be a question mark on the future of the children studying in them,” he said.

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