Apex court seeks to check if song sung in Kendriya Vidyalayas is Hindutva
The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday has sought the view of the central government on a petition, which sought discontinuance of a Hindi and Sanskrit song being sung as morning prayer in 1,125 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) across the country for the past 50 years.
Contending that the song 'Daya kar daan vidya ka hamein parmatma dena…' promoted 'Hindutva', the PIL filed by lawyer Veenayak Shah, argued that a school or any educational institution funded by the state cannot propagate any particular religion.
Shah also argued that parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheist and others - who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, rationalists and others - would find the imposition of this prayer "constitutionally impermissible".
Such prayers based on a religion will also create obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students, the PIL said.Shah contended that the song also constituted a "religious instruction" which will create a "lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students".
Stating that the petition "raised an important constitutional issue", a bench of justices Rohinton Nariman and Navin Shah has sought the view of the Centre within four weeks.
"Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction to respondents to forthwith discontinue any form of prayer from the morning assembly or otherwise in Kendarya Vidhalaya Sangathans and to promote scientific learning among the students," said the prayer in the petition.
Invoking Article 28 (1), which says that "no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds", Shah argued that "the expression religious instruction has a restricted meaning".
He added: "It conveys that teaching of customs, ways of worships, practices or rituals cannot be allowed in educational institutions wholly maintained out of State funds."
The petitioner submitted that the said common prayer is a "religious instruction" within the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution of India and should therefore be prohibited. Shah also contended that all the students have to begin their day by reciting the common prayer also followed by a silent prayer.
"This practice creates 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 the same is instilled as a thought process among the students as well. Students as a result learn to develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life and spirit of inquiry and reform seems to be lost somewhere," the petition said.