Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Delhi HC seeks Union govt’s response in plea challenging shutdown of Maulana Azad Education Foundation

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Union government to respond to a petition challenging its decision to close the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF).

While hearing the petition, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora urged the government counsel to seek instruction and bring the response on March 7, when the case will be heard again.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs had shut down the foundation as per the proposal of the Central Waqf Council.

Waqf Council, though a statutory organisation supposed to control the affairs related to waqf endowments in the country, has been controversial for openly siding with the ruling party agendas in the past few years by mishandling the waqf properties.

MAEF was a government-funded organisation which had been crucial in providing financial aid to Muslims and other minorities, especially for higher education.

One of its schemes, Maulana Azad National Fellowship, was earlier stopped by the union government in 2022.

The plea filed by a group of citizens termed the closing of the MAEF as completely mala fide, arbitrary, and authoritarian.

The petition further stated that the shutting down of the foundation will deprive the rightful beneficiaries, especially girls, from availing the scholarships given under various schemes.

The irregularities in the process of dissolution were also severely criticised by the litigants as the minority ministry transferred the remaining funds of MAEF to the CWC, a totally different kind of organisation.

“A process of dissolution of any society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, is to be initiated by a proposal of three-fifth members of that society as per Section 13 of the Act. Also, its assets are to be transferred similarly to a similar society to be also determined by a vote of three-fifth members as per Section 14. The office order dated 07.02.2024 not only dictates that the MAEF should dissolve itself but also predetermines that the remainder funds of the MAEF would be transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India and its fixed assets shall go to CWC, in a clear and abject violation of the legal regime envisaged under the Societies Registration Act, 1860,” the plea said.

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