SC issues notice to Centre on a plea against prayers in Kendriya Vidyalayas

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to find out whether a Hindi prayer sung in the morning assembly in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools all over India promotes a particular religion and disturbs the Constitution. While issuing a notice to the government, a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said that “It is a very important constitutional issue”.

An advocate Veenayak Shah whose children graduated from a Kendriya Vidyalaya filed the petition. He is a resident of Madhya Pradesh, who believes that the practice of prayer generated barriers in developing scientific temperament among students as the whole idea of God and religious faith is given huge priority and inspired as a thought-process among the students. The plea said, “Students as a result learn to develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from the almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life, and the spirit of enquiry and reform seems to be lost somewhere”. “All the students irrespective of their faith and belief, have to compulsorily attend the morning assembly and recite the prayer,” he added in the petition.

He said that if any student failing to do fold hands, closing eyes and reciting the prayer, then they were punished and humiliated in front of the entire school. Shah added that as per the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution, the common prayer is a “religious instruction” and thus must be prohibited. The Article 28(1) clears that no religious instruction shall be given in any educational institution just maintained out of state funds. The petition said that “The above prayer is being enforced throughout the country in all Kendra Vidyalayas. As a result, parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheists and others who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, scepticists, rationalists, and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible”.

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