Mandatory Gita learning in schools; Gujarat HC refuses to stay, issued notice to State, Union govts

The Gujarat High Court on Monday issued notice to the State and Union governments in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind challenging a resolution by the State’s Department of Education mandating the learning of Bhagavad Gita for students of classes 6 – 12 in the upcoming academic year.

However, a Bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri refused to entertain the Muslim body’s request for a stay on the resolution’s operation, according to Bar and Bench.

The resolution was a colourable exercise of power, violative of Articles 14, 28 and other fundamental rights, and was also against the principle of secularism which was a basic feature of the Constitution, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind said to the court.

The Muslim body argued that the resolution violated Article 28 of the Constitution that provides that no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds.

it is an undisputed fact that the Gita is a religious book of the Hindus and all the values enunciated in the Gita are interwoven with the tenets of Hinduism,” read the petition.

The Muslim body raised their concern that educating students in only one religion would have the effect of indoctrinating young impressionable minds of the superiority of one religion over others, which would in turn affect the exercise of free choice and conscience guaranteed under Articles 21 and 25.

It went on to say: “The impugned resolution under the garb of implementing a value based education system is rationally, and without adequate determining principle, selects one book as a book of values and mandates teaching the same.”

The moral values to be taught in a secular state must be constitutional values of equality, fraternity, and justice as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution, JUH said.

The division bench listed the case for further hearing on August 18, 2022, according to Bar and Bench.