SC upholds Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act’s validity

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a law framed by the West Bengal government in 2008 to constitute a Madrasah Service Commission in connection with the appointment of teachers in the Islamic seminaries.

The court noted the process connected with the selection of teachers and their nomination by the panel did not violate the rights of minority educational institutions.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit said that any departure from the concept of merit and excellence would not make a minority educational institution an effective vehicle to achieve what has been contemplated in various decisions of the apex court. “Further, if merit is not the sole and governing criteria, the minority institutions may lag behind the non-minority institutions rather than keep in step with them,” they observed.

The bench, in the 151-page judgement, said: “The selection of the teachers and their nomination by the Commission constituted under the Act would satisfy the national interest as well as the interest of the minority educational institutions.”

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Delivering the judgement on a batch of petitions, the apex court set aside the Calcutta High judgement declaring the provisions of the law as ultra vires.

The apex court held that the West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act, 2008 made sure the panel, which comprised of experts in the field, screened the merit in the state, deployed procedures fair in selection and selected candidates on merit.

The top court relied upon the Constitution bench decision in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation case (2002) and other judgements to conclude the provisions of the Act, are not violative of the rights of the minority educational institutions on any count.

“The additional feature in the present matter shows that the composition of the Commission with special emphasis on persons having profound knowledge in Islamic Culture and Theology, would ensure that the special needs and requirements of minority educational institutions will always be taken care of and thus the present case stands on a different footing,” said the court.

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Following the passage of the state law, the process of appointment of teachers in unaided Madrasas, recognised as minority institutions, was entrusted to the Commission. The petitions challenging this contended the provisions of the Act transgressed upon the rights of a minority institution to choose its own teachers.

“We declare all nominations made by the Commission in pursuance of the provisions of the Commission Act to be valid and operative,” the court added.

It noted the legislature protects the interest of a minority institution by ensuring only meritorious candidates are nominated by the Commission. In case of any error, the concerned managing committee may flag it to the Commission, which may amend the error.

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