A distinctive document with many extraordinary features, the Constitution of India, is an integral part of every citizen residing in the country. The Constitution of India not only acts a guidebook for the functioning of the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary bodies but also provides the citizens of the country certain fundamental rights. These rights are justifiable and an individual can move the Supreme Court or the High Courts if there is an encroachment on any of these rights.
Fundamental rights safeguard the personal interest of Indian citizens, provide the feeling of equality, protect the citizens from exploitation, allow them to practice their religions , provide education to everyone, access to constitutional law & maintaining privacy and dignity of a citizen.
Article 14, 19 and 21, also known as the golden triangle of the Indian Constitution, is important in order to protect the freedom and prevent the Government from taking capricious and arbitrary actions. Under these articles, the Constitution provides equality to all its citizens in every possible aspect including the right to practice, profess and propagate the religion of their choice.
Article 28(1) of the Constitution states that “(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.”
Thus this article mandates that no religious instruction would be imparted in the state-funded educational institutions.
Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan is a group of educational institutes managed by the Minister of Human Resource Development which means it is a state- administered educational institute.
Thus the students in such an institution not only have the right to practice, profess and propagate the religion of their choice but also according to Article 28, the right to no religious instruction can be imparted in such an institution.
Lastly, Article 51(h) of the Indian Constitution, while highlighting the fundamental duties of the citizens states – “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”
Hence invoking God and any mystical entities or teachings amongst young children in an institute which is supposed to educate the young mind especially the critical thinking faculties is not a great thing to do which is one reason why schools should be secular, devoid of religious teachings and not using schools as a propaganda machine for propagating religious/mystical ideas in tender minds. If the institution insists upon such a prayer which is definitely unconstitutional because then a state-run institution is getting involved in the propagation of a
specific religion (because the prayer is from a religious text of a specific religion), then correspondingly a student should also be provided a choice of not partaking in such a prayer. But unfortunately the revised education code (chapter 10) of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan
schools does not offer any such choice. Thus the PIL filed is within the constitutional powers to challenge a practice which is not in alignment with what the constitution states and the Supreme Courts decision to issue notice to the Centre on the petition filed by Veenayak Shah, who is represented by advocates Satya Mitra and Pallavi Sharma, that the revised education code of the Kendriya Vidyalayas which violates Articles 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression) and Article 28 (1), which prohibits the State from providing any religious instruction in an educational institution run on public funds is just and reasonable.
NIDHI BANGA (Adv)
NB Law Firm, Jungpura, Delhi