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”.

Deadline for linking Aadhaar could be extended to March 31 next year

On Thursday, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that it will extend the deadline for compulsory linking of Aadhaar for various services and welfare schemes till March 31 next year. However, the extension will be applicable only to those who do not have the Unique Identification Number yet.

The Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that the government will issue notification for the extension by tomorrow. The Centre also said that the deadline for Aadhaar linking to cellphone numbers (Feb 6) won’t be extended as the date has been named by the top court. The petitioners, who had appealed against doing the linking of Aadhaar compulsory, have opposed to the provisional extension of the deadline. The advocate representing the side of the petitioner, Udayaditya Banerjee, said that “Our case is those who have Aadhaar must also be allowed not to link. There are fears that Aadhaar will be misused. We have challenged the Aadhaar scheme itself. We wanted the court to pass interim orders”.

The lawyer added that the interim order is expected next week when the court will hear the case again. Arguing that it violates people’s right to privacy and can be misused, the Supreme Court has been asked by the social activists to stop the Centre from making the linking of Aadhaar compulsory for bank accounts and mobile phone numbers. In the petition of social activists, they also challenge the validity of Aadhaar which contains biometric details like fingerprints and iris scans. Presently, the Aadhaar card number has to be linked to bank accounts, PAN cards, government services and cellphone services.