IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS DATED: 23.07.2010 CORAM THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE N.KIRUBAKARAN W.P.No.957 of 2010 & M.P.No.1 of 2010 Sri.V.D.S.Higher Secondary School, Rep. by its Correspondent, D.Dharmichand Jain, 781, Sannadhi Street, Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvannamalai District. ... Petitioner Versus 1.The State of Tamil Nadu, Education Department, Fort Saint George, Chennai 600 009. 2.The Director of School Education, College Road, Chennai. 3.The Chief Educational Officer, Thriuvannamalai. 4.The District Educational Officer, Thriruvannamalai. ... Respondents Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Prohibition, to forbear the respondents from insisting the petitioner to seek a declaration of minority status every year for the petitioner school. For Petitioner : Mr.S.Abdul Vahab For Respondents : Mr.P.Muthukumar Government Advocate ORDER
The Petitioner school was started in the year 1981 as High School and later upgraded as a Higher Secondary School in the year 1986 and is run by a Public Charitable Trust which is a linguistic minority. The object of the Trust is to provide for maintenance of schools and colleges and render financial help to any educational, medical or charitable organisation and to provide scholar ship and medical help. It is stated that about 4500 students are studying in the school.
2. By virtue of G.O.Ms.No.35, School Education Department, dated 22.02.2006, 1st respondent granted minority linguistic status (Hindi) to the school for the year 2006-2007. Moreover, the petitioner also filed a Civil Suit in O.S.No.57 of 1995 seeking declaration of minority status of the petitioner which was decreed and the Appeal Suit also got dismissed on 29.06.2000. Subsequently, the 3rd respondent by order No.MM 2340AA/2006 dated 03.06.2006 granted minority status to the petitioner’s school from 01.06.2003 to 31.05.2006. The Tahsildar, Thiruvannamalai certified on 13.09.2006 that the Trustees belong to Jain community, who speak Hindi. The petitioner applied for further minority status to the school and there is exchange of communications between the respondents with regard to fulfilment of requirements of G.O.Ms.No.375, School Education (X1) Department, dated 12.10.1998.
3. It is stated that the 2nd respondent addressed a letter dated 28.02.2007 to the 1st respondent with a copy to the petitioner school enclosing the comments of the 3rd respondent, stating that the petitioner’s school complied with the requirements of G.O.Ms.No.375, School Education (X1) Department, dated 12.10.1998 and also G.O.Ms.No.69, School Education Department, dated 28.06.1994. The 2nd respondent recommended to issue minority status to the petitioner’s school.
4. Pursuant to the letter dated 01.09.2009, written by the 4th respondent, the petitioner gave a reply on 13.11.2009 enclosing the details of the school and sought for minority status to the petitioner’s school.
5. As the petitioner was already accorded minority status for the year 2006-2007. Even before that from 01.06.2003 to 31.05.2006, the petitioner was accorded minority status and it would continue and therefore, there is no necessity for the petitioner to get the renewal of minority status every year. Therefore, the petitioner has come before this Court seeking a Writ of Prohibition to forbear the respondents from insisting the petitioner to seek a declaration of minority status every year.
6. Mr.S.Abdul Vahab, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that the minority status of the petitioner’s school has been declared by the Civil Court as early as on 02.02.1999 in O.S.No.57 of 1995 on the file of District Munsif, Thiruvannamalai, was also decreed on 29.06.2000. The 3rd respondent also granted minority status to the petitioner’s school from 01.06.2003 to 31.05.2006 and it continues to be in force. G.O.Ms.No.35, School Education Department, dated 22.02.2006 would reveal that the petitioner was granted minority status subject to result of the case pending before the Honourable Supreme Court and the status was granted for the year 2006-2007. By communication dated 26.05.2006, the 2nd respondent asked the 3rd respondent to forward the proposal with regard to the minority status. In the letter dated 26.12.2008 written by the 4th respondent to the petitioner would reveal that the petitioner was called upon to explain why there was a delay in sending the proposal for continuation of the minority status.
7. Learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon Judgment in (1998) 6 SCC 674, order in W.A.No.1714 of 1999, order in W.P.No.13632 of 2001, in support of his contention that there is no necessity to go for renewal every year.
8. The learned Government Advocate is in agreement with the Judgments passed by this Court. Moreover, the learned Government Advocate cannot contradict the laws laid down by this Court.
9. It is admitted position that the petitioner school has been granted minority status by 3rd respondent order with effect from 01.06.2003. Civil Court also declared minority status of the petitioner in O.S.No.57 of 1995. Subsequently by G.O.Ms.No.35 (School Education (T1) Department, dated 22.02.2006, petitioner’s linguistic minority status has been declared. The communications of the respondents would reveal that the petitioner’s character as “minority.”
10. The Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in N.Ammad Vs. Manager, Emjay High School and others reported in (1998) 6 SCC 674 wherein it has been declared that, the declaration of minority status is only an open acceptance of a legal character which should necessarily have existed antecedent to such declaration. Paragraph 13 of the said Judgment is extracted as follows:-
“13. When the Government declared the school as a minority school it has recognised a factual position that the school was established and is being administered by a minority community. The declaration is only an open acceptance of a legal character which should necessarily have existed antecedent to such declaration. Therefore, we are unable to agree with the contention that the school can claim protection only after the Government declared it as a minority school on 02.08.1994.”
11. Paragraphs 4 & 5 of Judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in W.A.No.1714 of 1999 passed on 31.07.2001 are referred as follows:-
“4…………….We fail to appreciate how the minority status can be conferred on the appellant for a particular period to be renewed periodically like a driving license. In our considered opinion, the appellant it is not open for the State Government to review its earlier order conferring linguistic minority status on the appellant unless it be shown that appellant had suppressed any material fact while passing the earlier order dated 27.10.1997 or there is fundamental change of circumstances warranting cancellation of the earlier order.
5. ……….. In conclusion, we hold that if any entity is once declared as minority entitling to the rights envisaged under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India, unless there is fundamental change of circumstance or suppression of facts, the Government has no power to take away that cherished constitutional right which is a fundamental right and that too, by an ordinary letter without being preceded by a fair hearing in conformity with the principles of natural justice. ”
12. Mr.Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar by order dated 18.08.2009 passed in W.P.No.13632 of 2001 in Asan Memorial Association Vs. The State of Tamil Nadu and Another in paragraphs 13, 14 and 15 has held as follows:-
“13. Similar issue was decided by the Supreme Court in the decision reported in (1998) 6 SCC 674 (N.Ammad Vs. Manager, Emjay High School and Others) wherein it is held that a school which is otherwise a minority school would continue to be so whether the Government declare it as such or not. When the Government declare a school as minority school, it has recognised the factual position that the school was established and is being administered by a minority community. The declaration is the open acceptance of the legal character, which should necessarily have existed antecedent to such declaration. As per the above Judgment of the Supreme Court, the declaration of the minority status will relate back to the establishment of the institution.
14. A Division Bench of this Court in the decision reported in (2001) 3 MLJ 433 (Thirumuruga Kriupananda Variyar Thavathiru Sundara Swamigal Medical Educational and Charitable Trust, Salem Vs. State of Tamil Nadu) took a view that there is no provision for the Government to insist on renewal of minority status every year. When once the institution has been granted minority status, unless there is any change in the constitution of the agency or any adverse information is received by the Government, there is absolutely no need or necessity for the Government to expect such periodical renewal. SLP filed against the said Judgment was also dismissed by the Honourable Supreme Court. The said Division Bench decision was followed by this Court subsequently in the decision reported in 2004 WLR 202 (C.S.I. Institute of Technology, Thovalai Vs. The Government of Tamil Nadu & Another) and this Court held that requiring renewal of minority status every year will unnecessarily lead to delay and red-tapism, which is totally uncalled for. By requiring such declaration every year, the administration of the institution and the plight of the students will be kept under unreasonable suspense and doubt which is totally unwarranted. This Court held that it is totally unreasonable to expect all the minority institutions in the State be knocking at the doors of the Government every year and the authorities pass orders only after some years.
15. Article 30 (1) is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and it is a right which confers certain privileges to minority institutions. The Government is bound to recognise the said right and imposing condition to get minority status every year is an unreasonable restriction and the same cannot be permitted. If the procedure now followed by the Government is permitted, i.e, no order is passed by the Government even after the beginning of the academic year, the fundamental right guaranteed to minority institutions would be a promise of unreality.”
From the above, it is very clear once the minority status is already given to the petitioner’s school that there is no necessity for the institution to go for renewal every year. The minority status will be in force unless there is circumstances for reviewing it or altering it. This is the dictum laid down by Mr.Justice K.P.Sivasubramanian in C.S.L.Institute of Technology, Thovalai Vs. The Government of Tamil Nadu and another reported in 2004 Writ L.R. 202.
13. The facts of the case would show that there is any circumstances as on date for change or review the order already granted. Therefore, the minority status of the petitioner continues.
14. In view of the settled position of law and facts of the petitioner’s case, there will be an order of a Writ of Prohibition, forbearing the respondents from insisting the petitioner to seek declaration of minority status every year for the petitioner school. Accordingly, the Writ Petition is allowed. No costs. Consequently, connected Miscellaneous Petition is closed.
23.07.2010 Internet :Yes Index : Yes smn To 1.The State of Tamil Nadu, Education Department, Fort Saint George, Chennai 600 009. 2.The Director of School Education, College Road, Chennai. 3.The Chief Educational Officer, Thriuvannamalai. 4.The District Educational Officer, Thriruvannamalai. N.KIRUBAKARAN,J. smn W.P.No.957 of 2010 23.07.2010