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RSS ideologue questions scholarship scheme for 'minorities, terms it unconstitutional
6/18/2019 12:41:15 AM

Early Times Report

JAMMU, June 17: Last Tuesday, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister for Minority Affairs announced that scholarships shall be awarded to five crore 'minority' students over the next five years. One doesn't know if it was a statement of proposed policy or a Cabinet decision that had been taken and awaiting notification. However, the announcement has not gone down well with the RSS. Its ideologue and a Delhi-based advocate Raghav Awasthi has questioned the whole scheme and virtually termed the scheme unconstitutional.
Questioning the scheme, Awasthi has said: "The Constitutional scheme in this regard is as follows: Article 14 of the Constitution of India states that if classification is to be done between citizens then the same has to be intelligible and that it should also have a nexus with the objective of the government policy/statute/executive order. Now, if it were to be said that only students belonging to the minority community would be able to get the benefit of these scholarships, and if the stated objective of the scheme is to promote education, then can it be concluded that there is any rational basis to the exclusion of those who do not belong to the 'minority'? Article 15 (1) also expressly states that the State cannot discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of, inter alia, religion". "Hence, if someone is awarded a scholarship just because he or she is a member of a religious minority community, the same would be Constitutionally untenable. The exceptions to this general doctrine are found in the next provision. However, even the enabling provision in Article 15 (4) does not empower the State to make provisions for the advancement of 'minorities' in the religious sense. The reference made here is to socially and educationally backward class of citizens, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Finally, the only form of positive discrimination in favour of minorities, for which an enabling provision has been made under the Constitution, is the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India," he has also said.
Not just this, he has taken on the BJP and said the vote-bank politics must be discarded. "If the BJP or certain sections therein feel that such attempts shall enable them to create a captive Muslim vote bank for themselves like the Congress did in previous decades, they are badly mistaken".
The upshot of his whole attack was: "To conclude, this proposal is a bad idea from the word 'Go' and needs to be junked as expeditiously as possible. A statement in this regard from a senior member of the Cabinet would not be remiss".
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