Supreme Court bench to decide on assembly diktat in schools

Court’s response came on a petition filed by Madhya Pradesh resident Veenayak Shah and had last year issued a notice to the Centre asking it to explain its stand.

Published: 29th January 2019 08:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2019 08:15 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

File photo of the Supreme Court of India (Photo| PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a Constitution Bench the issue of imparting religious instructions in schools, especially in Kendriya Vidhalayas, in the form of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns and verses during the morning assembly.

A two-judge Bench, headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, on Monday referred it to a constitution Bench for an authoritative pronouncement. Now, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will consider setting up an appropriate Bench for the purpose.

Court’s response came on a petition filed by Madhya Pradesh resident Veenayak Shah and had last year issued a notice to the Centre asking it to explain its stand.

During the hearing on Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the petition saying the singing of Sanskrit hymn ‘Asato Ma Sadgamaya’ at the school assembly every morning does not amount to imparting religious instructions at all.

“It is a universal truth, recognised by all texts, all paths of religion. It cannot become religious only because it is in Sanskrit. You have Christian schools saying ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Will that make the statement religious? I don’t think so,” Mehta said.

Justice Nariman then said, “But this hymn ‘Asato Ma Sadgamaya’ is directly from the Upanishad.”

Instructions in Hindi and Sanskrit hymns

The issue pertains to imparting religious instructions in schools, especially in Kendriya Vidhalayas, in the form of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns and verses during the morning assembly. A two-judge Bench, headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, on Monday referred it to a constitution Bench.

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