The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider whether Hindi and Sanskrit school prayers should be sung in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools on the ground that it promotes Hinduism.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman issued notices to the Centre and KVS seeking their responses within two weeks.
“It is a very important constitutional issue.” the court observed.
The apex court’s response came after a plea by advocate Veenayak Shah who argued that the morning prayers were in violation of the constitution as they promoted a particular religion.
“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.
Stressing that a school or any educational institution funded by the state cannot propagate any particular religion, Shah contended that it creates a “lot of obstacles in developing a scientific temperament among the students”.
The morning prayers are being sung since 1964 in more than 1,100 such schools across the country.
He also alleged that the practice violates freedom of speech and expression as students are under compulsion to recite the prayer.
“Under Article 19 of the Constitution, the citizens have been guaranteed Freedom of Speech and expression and as a result the students shall not be put under any compulsion to recite the prayer or even as to recite in particular manner by folding their hands and closing their eyes,” stated the plea.
The petition also argued that “parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheists, agnostics, scepticists, rationalists and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible.”