The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) is a statutory body established by the Government of India in the year 2004 via an ordinance. Subsequently, the ordinance was converted into an Act by Parliament in 2005.
In the years 2006 and 2010, two amendment Acts were passed by Parliament, and the current NCMEI Act is the net result of the original ordinance/Act and the 2 amendment Acts.
The original NCMEI Act:
Going through the statement of Objects and Reasons of the original 2004/2005 Act, it appears NCMEI was intended to serve a very distinct purpose. The NCMEI was to serve as a body to grant affiliation to minority run colleges to specific Central Universities.
Since minority run colleges, like non-minority ones, were governed by rules made by State Governments, some of them apparently expressed difficulty in getting affiliation to Central Universities. Hence the Commission was put in place.
The “Objects and Reasons” of the original Act says the following
“In one of the sections of the National Common Minimum Programme, there is a provision to establish a Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (hereinafter referred to as the National Commission) that will provide direct affiliation for minority professional institutions to Central Universities….”
In line with the above Objects and Reasons, the first version of the Act defined the powers of the NCMEI in Chapter III as follows
Right of a Minority Educational Institution to seek affiliation to a Scheduled University.
10. Right of a Minority Educational Institution to seek affiliation to a Scheduled University.-
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, a Minority Educational Institution may seek recognition as an affiliated college of a Scheduled University of its choice.
(2) The Scheduled University shall consult the Government of the State in which the minority educational institution seeking affiliation under sub-section (1) is situate and views of such Government shall be taken into consideration before granting affiliation.
Notice the specific usage of the term “Scheduled University”.
At the end of the Act, there was a “Schedule” which listed the Universities covered by this Act.
1. University of Delhi.
2. North-Eastern Hill University.
3. Pondicherry University.
4. Assam University.
5. Nagaland University.
6. Mizoram University.
Under Chapter IV of the Act, the powers of the Commission were listed. It could do the following:
- Advise the Central and State Governments on any question related to minority institutions
- Look into complaints of minorities being deprived of their rights under Article 30(1) or any dispute related to affiliation to *Scheduled* Universities
Of course, when one goes through the list of institutions granted certificates by NCMEI, we find many schools also in the list in 2005-06 itself. However, the Act itself granted very specific (limited, rather) powers to the Commission to deal with affiliation to Scheduled Universities.
The 2006 Amendment Act:
In the year 2006, the UPA Government amended this Act significantly. With this amendment, the functions of the Commission and the powers that it wielded underwent significant changes.
- From the entire Act, the term “Scheduled University” was replaced with the word “University”. So the Commission could now deal with matters related to any University.
- The Schedule listing the Universities was dropped altogether!
- Chapter III of the Act which dealt with rights of a minority institution, and in the original Act, spoke only about affiliation, was re-written completely. The terms “Competent Authorities” (Central and State Govt departments) was introduced. Explanation of the procedure to obtain a “no-objection certificate” was introduced.
- The term “Competent Authority” was defined in Section 1(c)(ca) in which the issuance of NOCs to “any educational institution of their choice by the minorities” was specified.
- Suo moto powers to the Commission to enquire into any matter related to rights of minorities in the context of Article 30(1) were granted.
- It also introduced new Sections 12A to 12F under Section 12 of the Act. Under these new sections
- NCMEI could now be approached by a minority institution if a NOC wasn’t granted by the Central or State Govt.
- NCMEI obtained the power to decide on the minority status of “an educational institution” (read as any-minority-educational institution, not just colleges)
- NCMEI could now cancel the minority status of an educational institution.
- Only High Courts and the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings against the decisions made by NCMEI.
As we can see, it is with this amendment that NCMEI got powers to decide on matters related to the minority character of an educational institution. The new definition of “Competent Authority” also clearly stated that any minority institution (schools, colleges, any other type of institution) would be covered by the Act, and come under the jurisdiction of the NCMEI. And by removing the word “Scheduled” from the Act, it became applicable to all Universities.
The 2010 Amendment Act:
This amendment granted one significant additional power to the Commission.
In the previous version of the Act, Section 12(B)(4) stated the following
On receipt of the appeal under sub-section (3), the Commission may, after giving the parties to the appeal an opportunity of being heard, and in consultation with the State Government, decide on the minority status of the educational institution and shall proceed to give such directions as it may deem fit and, all such directions shall be binding on the parties.
Whenever a dispute arose with regard to the minority nature of an educational institution, NCMEI still had to consult with the concerned State Government before arriving at a decision.
In this amendment Act, the phrase “and in consultation with the State Government” was removed completely. Therefore, NCMEI now became the sole authority, throughout the nation, in deciding the minority status of ANY educational institution.