Delhi High Court dismisses petition challenging closure of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation

A petition filed challenging the closure of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on April 16.

On April 16, the Delhi High Court had rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the decision to dissolve the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF). The bench comprising Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna dismissed the petition, and stated that there was no merit in the plea to interfere with the ministry’s decision.

The plea had been by Professor Syeda Saiyidain Hameda and others. They were represented by Senior Advocate Anand Grover and Advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi. The plea argued that the manner in which the order dated February 7 was issued is alleged to be fundamentally flawed, unlawful, and influenced by improper motives. It is claimed to have disregarded statutory provisions, as well as the Memorandum of Association and the Society’s Rules and Regulations. The petitioners further argued that since the MAEF was registered as an Autonomous Society it cannot act at the “dictates of the Union of India.” The petitioners also maintained that while the budget of the society had been slashed, it can continue to maintain sufficient funds to maintain its objectives. They had further argued that the closure of the MAEF was contrary to the Right to Education and Right to Equality of the Educationally Backward Minorities under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Centre, specifically the Ministry of Minority Affairs, submitted the minutes of the General Body meeting of MAEF held on March 7 which revealed that the closure came after the unanimous decision of the general body. As per the court order, the members of the 15- member general body include the Union Minister of Minority Affairs who is the President, the Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, the Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs, the Chairman, Education and Women Welfare Committee of the Central Waqf Council and the Secretary, Central Waqf Council. The rest of the nine members were individuals nominated by the president. The ministry also argued that it has brought in more infrastructural change in the past few decades than the MAEF since its inception, and argued that the MAEF does not offer any “additional value” and is thereby, obsolete.

According to the court, the dissolution of the MAEF was deemed a “well-considered decision” made by its General Body in accordance with the organisation’s Bye Laws and provisions outlined in the Act of 1860. The court also stated that it found no impropriety or irregularity in the manner in which the General Body took the decision.

The MAEF was shut down in February this year after The Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) ordered the Maulana Azad Education Foundation to be shut down without any explanation. The directive was issued on February 7, 2024 and it instructed the immediate closure of the foundation.

Founded in 1989 and funded by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, MAEF played an important role in promoting educational opportunities for minority groups in India. Over the years, the Foundation administered various schemes to uplift minority communities. In 2017-18, about 115,000 girls were awarded scholarships under the Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship Scheme, an initiative that was started by the MAEF. The scholarship has now been consolidated into the Pradhan Mantri Education Empowerment Scheme (PMEES) under the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2023. 


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