SC refers mandatory recital of Sanskrit hymns in Kendriya Vidyalayas to Constitution bench

JANUARY 28, 2019

The plea claims that compulsory recitation of these verses amounts to ‘religious instruction’ and violates the freedom of speech and expression.

The Supreme Court on Monday referred to a Constitution bench a petition challenging the compulsory recitation of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns during morning assemblies at the central government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas, ANI reported.

The top court directed the petition to be placed before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who will refer it to an appropriate bench, The Indian Express reported.

In January last year, the Supreme Court had questioned a revised education code followed by the Kendriya Vidyalayas wherein students were made to recite Sanskrit and Hindi verses during morning assemblies or “face public humiliation in front of the entire school”, The Hindu reported. According to the “education code”, morning assemblies should begin with the Sanskrit hymn Asato Ma Sadgamaya and end with Om Saha Navavatu.

The court last year had observed that the education code violated the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution. It had issued notices to the Centre and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, an organisation that oversees the functioning of a number of schools run by the central government.

The petition, filed by Jabalpur-based lawyer Vinayak Shah, argues that these hymns are “based on Hindu religion”, their compulsory chanting amounts to “religious instruction”, and that this violates Article 28 of the Constitution, which says: “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.”

Responding to the notice in September last year, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had informed the court that it had nothing to do with the matter. The ministry had also asked the court to dismiss the writ petition on technical grounds.


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