SC refers PIL against Hindi hymns in Kendriya Vidyalayas to Constitution Bench; says 'religious instruction is of seminal importance'

The Supreme Court on Monday referred a PIL challenging the compulsory recitation of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns as 'morning prayers' of Kendriya Vidyalayas to a Constitution Bench. According to reports, a bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman ruled that a Constitution Bench would be appropriate for the matter.

The bench noted, "Religious instructions in school is a question of seminal importance." The matter will be placed before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to appoint the judges for the bench.

Reportedly, the petition, filed by lawyer Veenayak Shah, sought the discontinuance the songs in 1,125 Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country saying that "religious instruction" could create "a lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students". It also stated that an educational institute funded by the state could not propagate a religion.

The petition also said that the practice was in violation of Article 19 and Article 28(1).

A report by Live Law said, "The expression 'Religious Instruction' in Article 28(1) conveys that teaching of customs, ways of worships, practices or rituals cannot be allowed in educational institutions wholly maintained out of State funds. According to Shah, the common prayer is a 'religious instruction' within the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution of India and should therefore be prohibited."

In September, the Centre sought to distance itself from matter. The HRD ministry, which is in-charge of the KVS, has told the court that the issue of mandatory singing of Sanskrit and Hindi verses with folded palms and closed eyes during morning assemblies does not concern the ministry. The ministry had asked the court to dismiss the writ petition.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 13:15:20 IST

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