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Church Relieved As Court Upholds Status Quo in College Admissions Case

ICC Note:

Christians get breathing space as court stays rules that many Christians are afraid are aimed at allowing the government to take over Christian schools.

Indian Catholic (07/20/06)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India (UCAN) – Church people in southern India ‘s Kerala state welcome a decision by the state High Court not to change existing rules governing admissions to professional colleges.

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The court’s “interim order” on July 18 was issued in response to a petition presented on behalf of an association of managers of self-financed professional colleges, including Catholic institutions.

The state’s ruling Left-Democratic Front coalition on June 30 passed a law ostensibly aimed at streamlining management of professional colleges. However, members of minority religions, including Christians, say the law infringes their constitutional right to establish and manage educational institutions.

The court order says that, notwithstanding the law, last year’s norms and procedures may still be used to process admissions to those colleges.

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The Indian Constitution gives religious and linguistic minority groups the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

The court order pleases Church-managed colleges. “We are much relieved,” Father Raphael Thattil, vicar general of the Syro-Malabar Church ‘s Trichur archdiocese, admitted to UCA News. The court “has given us breathing space,” the priest said. His archdiocese manages a self-financing medical school.

Christians account for 19 percent of Kerala’s 31.8 million people and Muslims 22 percent, but minorities, particularly Christians, own and manage most professional colleges in the state.

For example, minorities run 42 of Kerala’s 52 engineering colleges, and five of the nine self-financed medical schools in the state are also under Christian management. Two of the medical schools are under the Syro-Malabar Church , one of two Oriental-rite Catholic Churches based in the state. The other Oriental-rite Church is Syro-Malankara.

M. A. Baby, Kerala’s education minister, told UCA News that the government will appeal the court verdict. “The court did not stay the new legislation,” said the minister, who initiated the new legislation. “It shows that the bill passed by the legislature is valid and competent.”

Christian leaders in the state have opposed the law since its enactment, and Christian delegations have presented their case to federal leaders. They claim that the law is an effort to take over their institutions…[Go To Full Story]