State cannot be identified with any religion - HC

Petitioner had contended that HC being a State cannot be identified with any religion. Fines petitioner who sought to declare Hindu rituals performed during foundation ceremony of its auditorium as unconstitutional
Indian Express Ahmedabad, Feb 11 2011

Holding that performing Hindu rituals during last year's foundation ceremony of its auditorium cannot be termed as non-secular, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) while imposing an "exemplary" fine of Rs 20,000 on the petitioner. The Division Bench comprising Justices Jayant Patel and J C Upadhyay passed the judgment while acting on the PIL moved by civil rights activist Rajesh Solanki. The PIL had demanded to declare Hindu rituals inside the HC premise as unconstitutional. The petition was filed with reference to a Bhoomi Pujan ceremony held in the HC premises to kick start the construction of a proposed auditorium on May 1 last year. Governor Kamla Beniwal and HC Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya were among those present in the function. Solanki had contended that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and performing Hindu ritual inside HC premises was against the spirit of that principle. Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Patel observed that "secularism is not anti-God". Defining the word 'secularism', the court observed, "The true meaning of the word 'secular' can be termed as based on principles of 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam'." The court also differentiated between religion and dharma. "...the word 'dharma' is not in contradistinction to secularism if it is understood in its real sense, that is, 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhino'. Merely because in certain religious practices, there is no identification of certain offering to the supreme power or almighty would not result into adharma or anti-dharma," the court observed.

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