Allahabad HC declares UP Board of Madrasa Education Act 'unconstitutional'

Reacting to the HC decision, madrasa education board chairman says if the act is repealed, thousands of teachers will become unemployed

Madrasa Education Board chairman says lawyer probably "could not present their case properly" (photo: National Herald archives)
Madrasa Education Board chairman says lawyer probably "could not present their case properly" (photo: National Herald archives)


The Allahabad High Court on Friday declared the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrasa Education Act 2004 "unconstitutional" and violative of the principle of secularism, and asked the state government to accommodate current students in the formal schooling system.

A division bench comprising justices Vivek Chaudhary and Subhash Vidyarthi of the Lucknow bench of the court declared the law ultra vires on a writ petition filed by a one Anshuman Singh Rathore.

In his reaction to the order, Uttar Pradesh Madrasa Education Board chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Javed said the board will 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 said.

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

The petitioner had challenged the constitutionality of the UP madrasa board as well as objecting to the management of madrasas by the minority welfare department rather than the education department.

The petitioner and his counsel submitted that the Madrasa Act violates the principles of secularism, which is the basic structure of the Constitution, fails to provide quality compulsory education up to the age of 14 years/ Class 8 as is mandatorily under Article 21A of the Constitution; and fails to provide universal and quality school education to all children studying in madrasas. "Thus, it violates the Fundamental Rights of the students of the madrasas," they claimed.

Opposing the petitioners, the state government counsel said no doubt the madrasa board was providing religious education as well as religious instructions to 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.

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.

Reacting to the decision of the high court, madrasa education board chairman Javed told PTI that their lawyer probably could not present their case properly before the court.

Javed said the high court's order will have a major impact on government-aided madrasas. 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.

On the question of 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 said the Muslim community has established madrasas as per its Constitutional rights, "just like there are Sanskrit schools".

"Modern education is also being given in madrasas. If the Madrasa  Education Act itself is abolished, then teachers of hundreds of madrasas 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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