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HomeIndiaCan't accept La Martiniere board denying membership as I'm non-Christian: Bengal governor

Can’t accept La Martiniere board denying membership as I’m non-Christian: Bengal governor

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar says the provision in La Martiniere School’s constitution ‘directly hits’ the right to equality before law in the Indian Constitution.

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Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has criticised Kolkata’s La Martiniere schools for not making him an ex-officio member of their board because he is not Christian.

“I am sure in our country it cannot happen. You can be a religious minority school. I have no problem with that. But if you say that a particular governor can be associated only if he is of a particular religion, that directly hits Article 14 of the Constitution (fundamental rights to equality before law). This can’t be countenanced,” the governor told ThePrint, adding that he would “take up” this matter.

Dhankhar called La Martiniere “well-managed and highly regarded”, but said, “Here you get an institution that is nearly 200 years old (it was established in 1836)… So I do it from a heavy heart, telling you the first time. They have a strange provision that a governor can be an ex-officio member only if he is a Christian.”

Supriyo Dhar, secretary of La Martiniere Schools (Boys and Girls), confirmed this provision to ThePrint, saying: “The constitution of the school provides that all permanent members have to be Christian by faith.”

Dhar recalled that the last time a state governor was a member (of the board of governors of the school) was in the 1970s, referring to Anthony Lancelot Dias, who was the West Bengal governor from 1971 to 1979.

Also read: Bengal must enforce rule of law to reverse ‘flight’ of industrialists: Governor Dhankhar

What does he plan to do?

The governor said he had flagged the issue, though “in a couched manner”, when he went to La Martiniere to give away awards to students earlier this month.

“I told the boys and the girls that a provision was coming between you and me for greater interaction. I will do something about it. They might not have followed it,” he said.

Governor Dhankhar refused to spell out what he intended to do about the said provision in the La Martiniere constitution.

“Frank Moraes once wrote in an editorial on the front page of The Indian Express in 1971 that the general human behaviour is to think and act but General Yahya Khan (President of Pakistan during the Bangladesh liberation war) has acted. Let him now at least think,” he said.

“If a journalist of such great stature has said something, I must think, act and then speak.”

Also read: Three reasons why Mamata Banerjee is losing the plot in West Bengal

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  1. The Governor is wise enough to listen to Frank Moraes that he should think and act. As a Constitutional body who is responsible to uphold Constitution, I am surprised he is not aware about Article 30 of Constitution which gives minority educational institutions constitutional right to administer & manage their institutions.

  2. The Constitution of India also has given Minority institutions in India the right to run them, so what is the Governor’s problem? Surely he has more important things to attend to rather than bother about being on the board of a particular school.

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