Excerpt: The State is secular in the sense that the Government will not associate itself directly with any religion; but at the same time, every religion and faith are equally honoured and every citizen is free to practice his own religious belief. India is not anti-religious to oppose any religious faith. Secularism represents, in a true sense, universalism and freedom, which are the essential characteristics of secularism. The State is not interfering with the ‘faith’ of the petitioner-society, which has no right to convert the State from its policy of secularism into ‘atheism’, which is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
Andhra High Court
Athiest Society Of India, … vs Govt. Of Andhra Pradesh on 4 August, 1992
Equivalent citations: AIR 1992 AP 310
Bench: J E Prasad
1. The petitioner-Athiest Society of India, Nalgonda District Branch, prays for issuance of a writ of Mandamus, directing the respondent-Government of Andhra Pradesh, to instruct all the concerned Heads of Departments to prohibit the practice of religious performance of worship al the State functions, such as, during the laying of foundation stones for large, and small projects and inauguration of State buildings or Institutions and exhibiting religious symbols, like Photos or Idols in the State Offices or its subordinate offices.
2. The deponent of the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, claims to be the Secretary of the Athiest Society of India, Nalgonda District Branch. The grievance of the petitioner is that the respondent is not following the secular objectives of the State, as enshrined in the Constitution of India and is practically encouraging religious sentiments by permitting performance of rituals, such as, breaking of coconuts, performing poojas and chanting of Mantras or Sutras of different religions at the time of laying foundations and inauguration of small and large Projects and State buildings and Institutions. It is further averred that public bodies, such as, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, are freely exhibiting religious symbols in the bus-stations, as well as in the buses. The petitioner asserts that due to such practices, permitted and encouraged by the Government and the Road Transport Corporation, the religious sentiments of the people are roused, leading to communal tensions, resulting in the people quarrelling among themselves and involving in communal riots, and massacres in various parts of the State. The further assertion of the petitioner is that the respondent itself is indirectly encouraging religious feelings for the reasons best known to the Government, by having poojas and other types of ceremonies of a particular religion to be performed in public functions. Such religious rituals at State functions are being shown in Television as well as other public media, including the films exhibited by A.P. State Film Development Corporation in cinema theatres. Apart from encouraging religious sentiments, such acts involve waste of public money and will lead people on lines contrary to scientific temper. The petitioner submitted a representation dated 2-12-1991 to the respondent to discontinue these religious performances at State functions etc., but there was no response to the said representation in spite of a number of agitations and representations being made.
3. In the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent-Government of Andhra Pradesh, the allegation that the State is not following the secular objectives enshrined in the Constitution of India, and that the State is encouraging the Departments and other Undertaking to follow religious practices, is denied. It is stated that no rules are framed or circulars issued directing the performance of any such rituals. The State is neither preaching nor encouraging to practice religion in any manner. The understanding of the petitioner of the meaning of the word ‘secular’ is not correct. Arts. 25 to 30 of the Constitution of India, guarantee the freedom of religion and faith to all citizens and the State cannot interfere with their faith and religion. The petitioner-society has no faith in any religion and God, which itself may be called a ‘particular faith’, and the petitioner cannot compel the State to interfere with the religious freedom of the citizens by making them to follow the ‘faith’ of the petitioner-society.
Mere participation of the State in such occasions, does not mean that the State is encouraging or canvassing religion. The petitioner cannot invoke Art. 226 of the Constitution of India, for the implementation of the petitioner’s ‘faith’, which is against the provisions of the Constitution. In India, secularism cannot disregard or disown its living links with the history of the country. Humanism and toleration were, by and large, a part of the spiritual, cultural and intellectual ethics in the ancient India. The State is secular in the sense that the Government will not associate itself directly with any religion; but at the same time, every religion and faith are equally honoured and every citizen is free to practice his own religious belief. India is not anti-religious to oppose any religious faith. Secularism represents, in a true sense, universalism and freedom, which are the essential characteristics of secularism. The State is not interfering with the ‘faith’ of the petitioner-society, which has no right to convert the State from its policy of secularism into ‘atheism’, which is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
4. The Preamble to the Constitution of India says, “We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India in a SOVEREIGN SOCALALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this.
twenty-sixth day of NOVEMBER, 1949, do’ HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT ADN GIVETO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.
The words ‘SOCIALIST SECULAR’ were inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976. The secular nature of India is one of the basic structures of the Constitution, as held in Kesavanand case, . As laid down in the Preamble, the People of India, have to secure to all its citizens, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, apart from Justice, social, economic and political; Equality of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all fraternity, assuring the diginity of the individual, and the unity and integrity of the Nation. The Supreme Court in Kesavananda laid down that the Preamble to the Constitution is of extreme importance and the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the noble and grand vision expressed in the Preamble.
5. The People of India are given the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. This speaks out the secular nature of the country. Art. 25 lays down that all persons are equally entitled to have the freedom of conscience and shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate religion, which are subject to public order, morality and Health and the other provisions of Part III of the Constitution. The right conferred by Art. 25 does not prevent the State from making any law, regulating or restricting the secular activity which may be associated with religious practice, providing for social welfare and reform:
6. Observing that the word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution and that it is a term which is hardly susceptible to any regid definition, the Supreme Court in The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shipur Mutt, concluded that ‘religion’ is certainly a matter of faith individuals or communities and it is not necessarily theistic. Referring to well-known religions in India, like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in God or in any Intelligent First Cause, it was observed that “it would not be correct to say that religion is nothing else but a doctrine or belief. A religion may not only lay down a code of ethical rules for its followers to accept, it might prescribe rituals and observation ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion, and these forms and observances might extend even to food and dress. The guarantee under our Constitution not only protects the freedom of religious opinion but it protects also acts done in pursuance of a religion. Cl. 2(a) of Art. 25 reserves the right of the State to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political and other secular activities which may be associated with religious practice and there is a further right given to the State by sub-clause (b) under which the State can legislate for social welfare and reform even though by so doing it might interfere with religious practices.
7. The scope of Art. 25 again fell for consideration of the Supreme Court in Ratilal Panachand Gandhi v. State of Bombay, . It was held therein that Art. 25 of the Constitution guarantees to every person, and not merely to the citizens of India, the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. Subject to the restrictions which Art. 25 imposes, every person has a fundamental right under our Constitution, not merely to entertain such religious belief as may be approved of by his judgment or conscience, but to exhibit his belief and ideas in such overt acts, as are enjoined or sanctioned by his religion and further to propagate his religious views for his edification of others. The free exercise of religion, by which is meant the performance of outward acts in pursuance of religious belief is, subject of course, to State regulation imposed to secure order, public health and morals of the people. The Supreme Court once again observed that our Constitution makers have made no attempt to define what ‘religion’ is and that it is not certainly possible to frame an exhaustive definition of the word ‘religion’ which would be applicable to all classes of persons. It was once again reiterated that religious practices or performances of acts in pursuance of religious belief, are as much a part of religion as faith or belief in particular doctrines.
8. In his enlightened judgment in Saifuddin Saheb v. State of Bombay, , Raigopala Ayyangar, J., while dealing with Arts. 25 and 26 of the Constitution observed (at p. 871 of AIR):
“I would add that these articles embody the principle of religious toleration that has been the characteristic feature of Indian civilization from the start o’f history, the instances and periods when this feature was absent being merely temporary aberrations. Besides, they serve to emphasize the secular nature of Indian Democracy which the founding fathers considered should be the very basis of the Constitution.”
In E.R.J. Swami v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court relying on the decisions mentioned above, held that the main principles underlying Arts. 25 and 26 are firstly, the protection of those articles is not limited to matters of doctrine or belief, and they extend also to acts done in pursuance of religion and therefore contain a guarantee for rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are integral parts of religion. Secondly, what constitutes an essential part of a religious or religions practice h’as to be decided by the courts with refererice to the doctrine of a particular religion’ and include practices which’are regarded by the community as a part of Us religion. Palekar, J., who spoke for the Constitution Bench, observed (at p. 1591 of AIR):
“Before we turn to these questions, it will be necessary to refer to certain concepts of Hindu religious faith and practices to understand and appreciate the position of law……
The image of Shiva is worshipped by his worshippers who are called Saivites and the image of Vishnu is worshipped by his worshippers who are known as Vaishnaviles. The institution of temple worship has an ancient history and, according to Dr. Kane, temples of deities had existed even in the 4th or 5th century B.C.,…… Worshippers lay great store by the rituals and whatever other people, not of the faith, may think about these rituals and ceremonies, they are a part of the Hindu Religious faith and cannot be dismissed as either irrational or superstitious.”
From a conspectus of the decisions referred to above, it is clear that a fundamental right to all persons the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion is guaranteed by Art. 25. This right is subject to public order morality and health and to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution of India. The State has the power to make laws to regulate or restrict the secular activity which may be associated with religious practices, providing for social welfare and reform.
9. In the puported exercise of the right conferred by Art. 25, no person can perpetrate insult to a religion, with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class, as held in Ramji Lal Modi v. State of U. P., . Deleterious practices in the name of exercising the right conferred by Art. 25 cannot be permitted and the legislature can prohibit such practices, as held in Saifuddin Saheb’s case (supra). Practices which do not form essential part of religion, such as Tandava Dance” by Anand Margis, can be prohibited by the State, as held in Jagadishwaranand v. The Police Commissioner Calcutta., . It is always open to State to step in and to make law, regulating or restricting the practices associated with religion, if they are deleterious to public order, morality and health.
10. The petitioner made vague averments in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, stating that the respondent is not following the secular objectives, of the Constitution and is encouraging religious sentiments in public functions. It is further alleged that at such functions, poojas are performed, mantras are chanted, coconuts are broken and sutras of different religions are chanted. In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent, the Government denied that such rituals are being performed by the Government or at the instance of the Government. It is not denied that such rituals are performed at public functions. In the absence of any material placed by the petitioner to indicate the persons who perform these rituals, it may be taken that the persons associated with the public functions perform these rituals in their individual capacity depending on their own religion and religious faith. The State neither directed the observations of these rituals, nor prohibited them. It is rightly pointed out by the learned Government Pleader, the performance of religious rituals by the participants at public functions, cannot be interfered with by the State, as it would amount to violation of fundamental right guaranteed by Art. 25 of the Constitution.
11. In the affidavit filed by the petitioner, it is further averred that the performance of rituals at public functions and the exhibition of religious symbols in Road Transport Corporation bus stations and buses is rousing religious feelings, leading to communal tensions, resulting in the people quarrelling among themselves and creating communal riots involving massacres of people in various parts of the State. Apart from the vague statement contained in the affidavit, no material is placed before the Court to show that such practices have led to communal tensions and communal riots leading to killing of people in various parts of the State.
12. Instances of religious ceremonies mentioned in the affidavit of the petitioner, like breaking of coconuts, performing poojas, chanting of mantras or sutras of different religions and exhibiting religious symbols in bus stations and buses, can be taken as acts of concerned individuals, in exercise of their right to practise their religion as enshrined under Art. 25 of the Constitution and cannot be prohibited, unless the State is satisfied that such practices are contrary to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions in Part III of the Constitution.
12A. It is relevant to refer to Cl.(l) of Art. 1 of the Constitution, which is as follows:
“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of State.”
It is made clear in the above Clause in Art. 1 of the Constitution that India is the country which was, and is, known as Bharat and that it shall be a Union of States. The name ‘Bharat’ is said to have originated from the words ‘Bha’ and ‘Rathi’. ‘Bha’ refers to ‘Bhagawan’ that is, God and ‘Rathi’ means ‘those with devotion’. Bharatiyas are persons who are known for their devotion towards God.
13. Bharatiya Philosophy, culture an,d sacred way of life permeate and shine like an undercurrent in all religions. Bharatiya culture has affirmed the profound Vedic Truth, that is, the One-Spirit that dwells in all living beings (Ekovasi Sarva Bhoota – Antaratma). This Unity of the spirit is proclaimed in various contexts in the teachings of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
14. As observed in the Commissioner, HRE, Madras (supra), the word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. The Supreme Court concluded that religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or communities. Referring to religion, Mahatma Gandhi said :
“Indeed, religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here, religion does not mean sectarianism. It means belief in ordered moral government of the Universe. It is not unreal because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity etc. It does supersede them. It harmonises them and gives them reality”.
Referring to ‘God’, Mahatma Gandhi had this to say:
“To me, God is Truth and Love; God is ethics and Morality; God is fearless; God is the source of Light and Love and yet, is above and beyond all these. He is even Atheism of the Atheists. He transcends speech and reason”.
15. Speaking in the Constituent Assembly, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan said :
“We must safeguard the liberty of human spirit against the encroachment of the State. While State regulation is necessary to improve the economic conditions, it should not be done at the expense of the human spirit. This declaration, which we make today, is of the nature of a pledge to our people and a pact with the civilized world”.
16. The famous English historian, E. P. Thompson extolled the importance of Indian culture and spirituality in the following words:
“India is not an important, but perhaps ‘the most important’ country for the future of the world. All the convergent opinions of the world run through this society; Hindu, Muslim, Christian, secular, Stalinist, Liberal, Moist, Democratic, Socialist and Gandhian. There is not a thought that is being taught in the West or the East which is not active in some Indian mind. If the sub-continent should be rolled up into authorharianism and if the varied intelligence and creativity should disappear into conformist darkness – then, it would be one of the greatest defeats of a penumbra of other Asiatic Nations.”
17. Sri Satya Sai Baba said:
“It is. a mark of ignorance to consider one religion is superior and another is inferior and develop religious differences on this basis. The teachings of all,religions are sacred. The basic, doctrines are founded on Truth. The Truth, of the Spirit (Atma Tatwa) is the essence of all religions; the Message of all scriptures and the basis of all metaphysics. The primary duty: of human beings is to recognise that the paths indicated by different religions may vary, but the goal is one. Love, sacrifice, compassion, morality, integrity and similar qualities are common to all religions. In different ways all religions have sought to promote unity in diversity. Religion should be practised with awareness that all religions have taught only what is good for humanity. In the spiritual path, different thoughts may emanate in different persons. But, there should be unity of thought, so far as God is concerned.
18. Swamy Vivekananda, speaking on Religion and Ethics said:
“Religion is the idea which is raising the brute unto man and man unto God. Religion is the manifestation of the natural strength that is in man. The basic aim of religion is to bring peace to man. Any religion that can bring that about ,is the true religion for humanity. Mankind should be taught that religions are but varied expressions of the Religion which is The Oneness so that each may choose the path which suits him best”.
He further said:
“In India religion was never shackled. No man was ever challenged in the selection of his Ista Devata (Deity of one’s choice) or his Sect, or his Preceptor and religion grew as it grew nowhere else”.
19. Bharat has, throughout the ages, welcomed and respected all faiths with equal ardour. All religions exhort their followers to be good and do good. No religion teaches that its followers should harm any one else. All religions aim at promoting righteous conduct by transforming the mental attitude of man, thereby bringing about harmony of body, mind and intellect. The foundation of all religions is morality. Morality is equated to selfless love. Religions were thus instituted to foster the well being of society through promotion of love for all beings. All religions advocate their votaries to seek eternal peace within oneself. No religion approves’the use of violence. Every religion recognised the cultivation of tolerance “dnd respect for other religions, thus paving the way for peace. The words of Dr. Radhakrisrman in the Constituent Assembly and referred to above and the Draft Articles formulated by Dr. Munshi and Dr. Ambedkar, crystalized themselves into Articles 25 to 30 of the Constitution of India without once using the word ‘secularism’ representing that remarkable consensus which constitutes the charter of religious freedom and minority rights as a part of Indian secularism.
20. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that the Government should not permit the breaking of coconuts, performing Poojas, chanting of Mantras or Sutras of different religions for the reason that such acts are contrary to the secular objectives of the Constitution. The breaking of coconuts, performing poojas and chanting of Mantras have been a part of the Indian tradition, associated with functions where foundation-stones are laid, buildings are inaugurated etc. These ceremonies are recognised as a part of religions practices. They are meant to invoke the blessings of Almighty for the success of the project undertaken. Such a noble thought cannot be found fault with as offensive to any one May be that the members of the petitioner-society, who claim to be atheists, do not appreciate the invocation of Gods, as they do not believe in God. There is no constitutional guarantee to the faith of the Atheists who worship the barren reason that there is no God, and that they cannot seek to enforce such a non-existing right by preventing the believers, in invoking the blessings of the Gods. Swamy Vivekananda in Vol. II, 9th Edition at page 301 (complete works) said :
“He is an Atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religion said that he was an Atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an Atheist who does not believe in himself.”
The petitioner cannot be permitted to enforce or thrust his disbelief in religion and God on others by invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226, contrary to the rights guaranteed under Article 25.
21. The learned Counsel for the petitioner next submitted that exhibiting religious symbols in the bus-stations and in the buses belonging to the State and its Undertakings, such as APSRTC and the Electricity Board, should be prohibited, as offending the secular .features as enshrined in the Constitution, as they encourage religious sentiments. The learned Govt. Pleader contended that there are no circulars or other orders directing the display of religious symbols or photographs of Gods and that the State cannot prohibit such display of various symbols and photographs of Gods by individuals. The contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner. Sri Vinay Kumar that such display of religious symbols is leading to communal tensions, is baseless. Apart from there being no material placed before the Court to show that communal riots were triggered on account of such practices, there can be no objection to a religious practice, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
22. It is common knowledge that truck and bus-drivers make obeseiance to the wheel by folding palms before they start, the poet worships his pen, the musician his musical instruments and so on, before they enter upon their respective tasks. This means that spiritual attitude supersedes the secular attitude. People are aware of God in every thing; God is one; people Call on Him in several ways. This discovery was made in India millinia ago. Sri Sathya Sai Baba said ‘God is Eternal Power; Omnipotent and Omniscient. He is the Cause and Consequence, the Potter, the Clay and the Pot. Without God, there can be no Universe. He willed and the Universe came into being. It is His play, the manifestation of His power. Man embodies His will, His power, His wisdom. The Lord is Love, His form is Love, all beings are loved, love saves and serves; through love alone can God arise, love reveals the God in all”. Divinity is only One. God may have different names, but there is no difference between one name of God and another. By whatever name you may call Him, God that responds is only the One. The God who resides in all things is the same Divinity. He is called the Indweller of the hearts,”
23. Exhibition of religious symbols and photographs of Gods only symbolises the’ devotion of the persons concerned towards Almighty, in whichever form the worship is manifested, and it cannot be taken as offending the religious sentiments of others. The contention that such display is leading to the people fighting among themselves, resulting in communal riots and massacres in various parts of the State, is nothing but an exaggeration and a figment of imagination of the petitioner.
24. The learned counsel for the petitioner next submitted that the respondent is not following the secular objectives, though the Government is supposed to maintain the secular features as enshrined in the Constitution and is practically encouraging religious sentiments in the public functions. The learned Government Pleader submitted that the State is neither encouraging nor canvassing religious practices at public functions and that they Stt riot done at the instance of the State. The petitioner has not placed any material to show that the State is encouraging any such religious practices. The word ‘secular’ appears only in the Preamble of the Constitution, though secularism pervades the constitutional provisions. The word ‘secularism’ is not defined in the Constitution. In Webster’s dictionary ‘secular’ is described as a ‘view of life, or of any particular matter based on the premise that religious considerations should be ignored or purposely excluded or as a system of social based upon the doctrine that ethical standards and conduct be ethics/ determined exclusively without reference to religion. It is a rational approach to life and it refuses to give plea for religion.” On Hth Feb. 1948, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said “India is a common home to all those who live here, to whatever religion they may belong…. They have equal rights and obligations. Ours is a composite nation”. On October 2nd, 1948 he said “we are building a free secular State where .every religion and belief has full freedom and equal honour, where every citizen has equal liberty and equal opportunity”. Although India was divided and Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion, India did not accept religion as the basis for its political organisation. The founding fathers of the Constitution were steadfast in their adherence to their secular idealism. The spirit that permeates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also pervades the Indian Constitution. The Indian Constitution embodies the quintessence of diverse facets of secularism.
25. “Secularism” means not only a bundle of guarantees in respect of freedom of religion and conscience and in respect of cultural and educational rights, but a sense of basic fraternity, fellowship and unity among all the citizens. Secularism is a goat as well as a process. As an idealogy and as a bundle of working norms, it is conditioned by the past legacies and the prevailing realities; in turn, it also shapes the course of social evaluation and the though processes. It is an alley of nationalism and national integration of language and communal harmony and accommodation, of liberty, freedom, equality and fraternity. The cultural history of India is an auto-biography of the message of compassionate humanism and self-less service. Religion, did not in reality, make the people of India indifferent either to worldly goods or to their fellow human beings.
26. Dr. L. M. singhvi in his book ‘Freedom on Trial’, rightly opined that “secularism” was erroneously .understood as “Dharma Nirapekshata”, so far as the State and its Institutions are concerned, and that a more accurate description of secularism should be ‘sarnpradaya Nirapekshata”, because, ‘Dharma’ in Indian tradition also stands for law and morality and no State can be devoid of law and morality. Indian social traditions of State-craft are more familiar with the concept of equality of religions or Sarva Dharma Samabhava, or Sarva Dharma Samanatva. The learned author further observed:
“freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of worship and religion, and freedom of speech and expression bred a certain catholicity of outlook and temperament in ancient India and it has protected the lian society from the excesses of fanatism …id exclusiveness. For ‘ centuries, it: gave Indian society a remarkable power and frequent opportunities of assimilation and absorption ………… Kabir and Guru Nanak blazed new trails of thought and illumined the ethical spiritual rational paths of Indian secularism, thus providing fruitful and harmonious avenues of synthesis rising above the pettiness of the parochilism of the sectarian establishment”.
27. From a reading of the Preamble to the Constitution and Articles 25 to 30, it is clear that the object is not to prevent the practice of religion, but to provide liberty, freedom, equality and fraternity between persons belonging to different religions. It is not the object of the Constitution to turn the country into an irreligious place. Secularism is at once an ideal and an inspiration, a goal as well as a striving, a product as well as a process. It is made of aggregation rather than segregation, of synthesis rather than separatismi of pluralism rather than dominance.
28. The Calcutta High Court had to deal with a similar situation in Chandanmal Chopra v. State of West Bengal, . The petitioner therein contended that Koran seeks to destroy idols, encourages crime and invites violence, that it outrages the religious feelings of non-Muslims and insults all religions except Islam, encourages hatred, disharmony, feelings of enemity between different religious commities in India, and the petitioner prayed for a declaration under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India, that each copy of Koran, as has forfeited to the State under S. 95 of Cr.P.C. The said contention was repelled by the High Court holding that “Koran, which is the basic text-book of Mohammedans, occupies a unique position to the believers of that faith as Bible is to the Christians and Gita, Ramayana and Maha Bharata to Hindus. In my opinion, if such an order is passed, it would take away the secularity of India and would deprive a section of people of their right to thought, expression, belief, faith and worship……….
Banning or forfeiture of Koran would infringe that right. Such an action would amount to abolition of the Muslim religion itself.” The petition was dismissed holding that the’action proposed will deprive a class of persons of their human rights, and that the petition should have been rejected forthwith and in limini as unworthy of its consideration as soon as it was moved.
29. The last submission of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the Govt. of Tamil Nadu issued Memo No. 7553/66-2 dated 29-4-68, instructing the Heads of Departments, to remove pictures, idols, etc., of Gods and Goddesses of any religion from the Government offices or property. A redding of the said memo shows that the Government of Tamil Nadu was not sure of its constitutional validity, as the direction is, ‘they should be removed gradually and unostentatiously, so as to avoid attracting any motive or creating any local incident”. It is not known whether the validity of the memo was tested as offending Art. 25 of the Constitution. The learned Counsel further submitted that similar directions were issued by the Government of India. The Union of India is not impleaded as a party and no material is placed before the Court to substantiate the said averment. We are only concerned with the alleged actions and inactions of the State Government,
30. If the prayer of the petitioner is granted, it will infringe the rights of crores of Indians, which are granted to them under Art. 25 of the Constitution and will run directly contrary to the secular objectives of the Preamble to the Constitution, which is one of Us basic structures. It would deprive a large section of the people of their right of thought, expression, belief, faith and worships. Such action would amount to abolition of Indian tradition and religious practices. No religion or religious practices can be belittled. The petition deserves to be rejected in limini, as unworthy of any consideration.
31. For the aforesaid reasons, there are no merits in the writ petition. It is accordingly dismissed. No costs.
32. Petition dismissed.