Supreme Court stays order on UP Madarsa Act. What is it and why had Allahabad HC struck it down?

UP Board of Madarsa Education Act was enacted to streamline madrassa education. It was struck down by the High Court as 'unconstitutional'.

Written By Arshdeep kaur
Updated5 Apr 2024, 03:17 PM IST
The Allahabad High Court has declared the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004, “unconstitutional” and violative of the principles of secularism.
The Allahabad High Court has declared the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004, “unconstitutional” and violative of the principles of secularism. (HT_PRINT)

The Supreme Court on Friday imposed an interim stay on the Allahabad High Court's order quashing the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004 after the high court deemed it “unconstitutional”. 

Last month, the Allahabad High Court had asked the UP government to accommodate the current students of the Madarsa board into the formal schooling system. However, while imposing the stay, the apex court stopped this relocation.

What is the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act?

Enacted in 2004, the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act's purpose was to streamline madrassa education, defining it as education in Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Islamic studies, Tibb (traditional medicine), philosophy and other specified branches.

There are about 25,000 madrassas in Uttar Pradesh of which 16,500 are recognised by the Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board. Of them, 560 madrassas receive grants from the government. Apart from this, there are 8,500 unrecognised madrassas in the state.

The Madarsa Education Board grants undergraduate and post-graduate degrees under the names Kamil and Fazil respectively.

The diplomas under this board are known as Qari, while certificates or other academic distinctions are also granted by the Madarsa Education Board.

The board conducts exams for the Munshi and Maulvi (Class X) and Alim (Class XII) courses.

The Madarsa Education Board is also mandated to prescribe courses, textbooks, reference books and other instructional material, if any, for Tahtania, Fauquania, Munshi, Maulavi, Alim, Kamil and Fazil.

Why had Allahabad HC struck down Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act?

The Allahabad High Court struck down the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004 saying it was "unconstitutional" and violative of the principle of secularism.

The high court was hearing a petition challenging the constitutionality of the UP Madarsa Board as well as objected to the management of madrassas by the Minority Welfare Department, rather than the education department.

The petitioner and his counsel submitted that the Madarsa 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-VIII as is mandatorily under Article 21-A; and fails to provide universal and quality school education to all the children studying in madrassas.

"Thus, it violates the Fundamental Rights of the students of the madrassas," they claimed.

What did the Supreme Court say?

The Supreme Court, while imposing an interim stay on the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act said that the high court's purpose was regulatory in nature.

The apex court also said the Allahabad High Court is “not prima facie correct” in believing that the madrassas will breach secularism.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud issued notices to the Centre, Uttar Pradesh government and others on the pleas against the high court order.

"The object and purpose of Madarsa board is regulatory in nature and the Allahabad HC is not prima facie correct that establishment of board will breach secularism," the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

The top court said the HC has misconstrued provisions of the 2004 act as it does not provide for religious instruction and the purpose and character of the statute is regulatory in nature.

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First Published:5 Apr 2024, 03:17 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaSupreme Court stays order on UP Madarsa Act. What is it and why had Allahabad HC struck it down?

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