The HRD Ministry has washed its hand of the obligatory recitation of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns during the morning assembly of Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) across the nation, saying the Sangathan was an autonomous body headed by the Board of Governors. Conceding that the Union HRD Minister was Chairman of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and it worked under its aegis, the Ministry has said that it has nothing to do with the quarrelsome routine with regards to compulsory recitation of Sanskrit 'shlokas' and Hindi prayers based on Hindu religion toward the beginning of the day.
The Union HRD Ministry's reaction arrived in a sworn statement filed in the court to a notice issued to it on January 10, 2018 on a request of looking for suspension of compulsory morning petitions at Kendriya Vidyalayas that start and end with Sanskrit 'shlokas' and Hindi prayer in view of Hindu religion. Portraying it a “serious constitutional issue,” Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha had on January 10 said the issue included an established inquiry and should be inspected.
The court had demanded for the Centre’s response in two weeks to the petition that had contended that the prayer was unconstitutional as it promotes a particular religion. Keeping itself away from the issue and saying that it was not involved in the day-to-day functioning of the Sangathan, the Ministry has, however, sought the dismissal of the plea since KVS has not been made a party in the petition and needs to be junked solely on the ground of “mis-joinder of necessary parties.
The claimant or the petitioner Veenayak Shah from Sidhi in Madhya Pradesh had stated that the compulsory recitation of ‘shlokas’ and prayers invoking God impede nurturing of reasoning and scientific temper among impressionable young minds. The mandatory recitation of the prayer by children belonging to minority communities as well as atheist, agnostics, sceptics, rationalists and others, the PIL had said, was “constitutionally impermissible”.
Article 28(1) stated: “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds.” Article 19(1)(a) says: “All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.” Shah had contended that the common prayer is a “religious instruction” within the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution and should be prohibited. The petitioner had challenged Article 92 of the “Revised Education Code of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan” that governs the Kendriya Vidyalayas in India. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on September 10.