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SC forms Constitution Bench to hear plea challenging ‘Hindu prayers’ in Kendriya Vidyalayas

The bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran observed that the matter of Hindu prayer recitation in Kendriya Vidyalayas required examination by constitution bench and accordingly placed the matter before the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to constitute bench.

Jan 28, 2019 17:02 IST
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The Supreme Court on January 28, 2019 constituted a Constitution Bench for hearing a plea challenging the mandatory requirement to recite Sanskrit and Hindi prayers in morning assembly sessions of 1,125 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) across the country.

The bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran observed that the matter of Hindu prayer recitation in Kendriya Vidyalayas required examination by constitution bench and accordingly placed the matter before the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to constitute bench.

Who filed the petition and Why?

The petition challenging the compulsory recitation of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns at Kendriya Vidyalaya was filed by lawyer Veenayak Shah, whose children had passed out of KV.

The petitions seek discontinuance of a Hindu religion based song as a morning prayer in Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country on the ground that religion based prayers will create a lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students as the whole idea of God and Religious Faith is given immense priority and is instilled among the students as well.

Resultantly, students end up developing an inclination towards seeking refuge from Almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life.

The petition invokes Article 28 (1) that says, "No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State Funds". It insisted that any school or educational institution funded by state cannot propagate any particular religion.

As per the Revised Education Code for Kendriya Vidyalayas, 2013, it is compulsory for students to attend morning assembly where they have to recite the prayers.

The morning assemblies at Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country begin with a prayer in Sanskrit and Hindi. The practice has been going on in the schools since 1964.

July 2018 ruling of Supreme Court

In July 2018, a bench of Justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra questioned that whether religious functions can be held in public parks maintained out of state funds and had referred the matter to the constitution bench.

The ruling came on a petition seeking permission to hold a religious prayer gathering, 'Mata Ki Chowki' in Chanchal Park, Delhi.

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