SC to decide if Kendriya Vidyalayas promote a religion through Hindi prayer, seeks Centre’s response

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to ascertain whether a Hindi prayer sung in the morning assembly in more than 1100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools across India promotes a particular religion and violates the Constitution.

“It is a very important constitutional issue,” a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said while issuing notice to the government.
The petition was filed by an advocate Veenayak Shah whose children graduated from a Kendriya Vidyalaya.
“All the students irrespective of their faith and belief, have to compulsorily attend the morning assembly and recite the prayer,” he said in the petition. The prayer also includes some Sanskrit words.
Teachers share the collective responsibility of supervising the assembly and making sure that every student folds his/her hands, closes his/her eyes and recites the prayer without fail. Any student failing to do so is punished and humiliated in front of the entire school, he said.
Shah said the prayer was violative of the Constitution, which permits a citizen to follow his or her religion. Also, he said, a state-financed institution cannot be allowed to promote a particular religion.

“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,” the petition said

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