The Revival of Ray XLIV

CJI Ray was years away from retirement when declaring Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society, (1974) 1 SCC 717.

Recently, Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra in Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India, [Transferred Case (Civil) No. 98 of 2012] quoted CJI Ray’s Judgment. 

The entire controversy centers round the extent of the right of the religious and linguistic minorities to administer their educational institutions. The right to administer is said to consist of four principal matters. First is the right to choose its managing or governing body. It is said that the founders of the minority institution have faith and confidence in their own committee or body consisting of persons elected by them. Second is the right to choose its teachers. It is said that minority institutions want teachers to have compatibility with the ideals, aims, and aspirations of the institution. Third is the right not to be compelled to refuse admission to students. In other words, the minority institutions want to have the right to admit students of their choice subject to reasonable regulations about academic qualifications. Fourth is the right to use its properties and assets for the benefit of its own institution.

The right conferred on the religious and linguistic minorities to administer educational institutions of their choice is not an absolute right. This right is not free from regulation. Just as regulatory measures are necessary for maintaining the educational character and content of minority institutions, similarly, regulatory measures are necessary for ensuring orderly, efficient, and sound administration. Das, CJ in Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956 summed up in one sentence the true meaning of the right to administer by saying that the right to administer is not the right to mal­administer.

Educational institutions are temples of learning. The virtues of human intelligence are mastered and harmonized by education. Where there is complete harmony between the teacher and the taught, where the teacher imparts and the student receives, where there is complete dedication of the teacher and the taught in learning, where there is discipline between the teacher and the taught, where both are worshippers of learning, no discord or challenge will arise. An educational institution runs smoothly when the teacher and the taught are engaged in the common ideal of pursuit of knowledge. It is, therefore, manifest that the appointment of teachers is an important part in educational institutions. The qualifications and the character of the teachers are really important. The minority institutions have the right to administer institutions. This right implies the obligation and duty of the minority institutions to render the very best to the students. In the right of administration, checks and balances in the shape of regulatory measures are required to ensure the appointment of good teachers and their conditions of service. The right to administer is to be tempered with regulatory measures to facilitate smooth administration. The best administration will reveal no trace or colour of minority. A minority institution should shine in exemplary eclectism in the administration of the institution. The best compliment that can be paid to a minority institution is that it does not rest on or proclaim its minority character.

Regulations which will serve the interests of the students, regulations which will serve the interests of the teachers are of paramount importance in good administration. Regulations in the interest of efficiency of teachers, discipline, and fairness in administration are necessary for preserving harmony among affiliated institutions.

The ultimate goal of a minority institution to imparting general secular education is advancement of learning. This Court has consistently held that it is not only permissible but also desirable to regulate everything in educational and academic matters for achieving excellence and uniformity in standards of education.

In the field of administration it is not reasonable to claim that minority institutions will have complete autonomy. Checks on the administration may be necessary in order to ensure that the administration is efficient and sound and will serve the academic needs of the institution. The right of a minority to administer its educational institution involves, as part of it, a correlative duty of good administration.”

In Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society, the Court held that minority institutions have a right to admit students of their choice subject to reasonable restriction for the academic qualification and the regulation, which will serve the interest of the students, can be imposed for ensuring efficiency and fairness. Education is vital for the nation; it develops the ethos of the nation. Regulations are necessary to see that there are no divisive or disintegrating forces in administration. It observed that it is not reasonable to claim that minority institutions will have complete autonomy. Some checks may be necessary and will serve the academic needs of the institution. A correlative duty of good administration is attached to the right to administer educational institution.

Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra, Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India, [Transferred Case (Civil) No. 98 of 2012].