The state cannot compel minority institutions to reserve teaching posts for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Supreme Court has said.
The court said that the actions of the state in discharge of its ‘duties, functions and governance’ should be ‘within constitutional framework’.
The provision of law or a circular, the court said, which would be enforced against the general class, may not be enforceable with the same force against the minority institution, particularly where it relates to the establishment and management of the school.
‘The state may not be well within its constitutional duty to compel the linguistic minority institution to accept a policy decision, enforcement of which will infringe their fundamental right and/or protection,’ a bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar said in their judgment July 8, which has been made available only now.
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the minority institutions could validly question such a decision of the state on the grounds of infringement of the law protecting their rights.
The court said: ‘The service in an aided linguistic minority institution cannot be construed as ‘a service under the state’ even with the aid of article 12 of the constitution’.
The judgment said that the framework of reservation policy should be such, as to fit within the constitutional scheme of our democracy.
It further said: ‘As and when the government changes its policy decision, it is expected to give valid reasons and to act in the larger interest of the entire community rather than a section thereof.’
In the instant case the Delhi government by its letter of March 12, 1985 directed all government aided schools to make reservation for SCs/STs in the appointment of their teachers.
However, by another letter dated March 21, 1986, the government said that reservation for SCs/STs was not applicable to minority institutions.
In September 1989, the government by yet another letter informed the all the government aided schools to make provision for SC/ST reservation in the appointment of teachers.
The said latter restrained the aided schools from making regular appointment in general category teachers until appointment under reserve category was completed.
Holding that the circular of September 1989 was not enforceable in respect of linguistic minority institutions, the court said: ‘There is a fine distinction between a restriction on the right of administration and a regulation providing the manner of administration.’