Supreme Court on Monday referred to the Constitution Bench, a plea challenging the compulsory recitation of Sanskrit and Hindi hymns in the morning assembly of the central government-run Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Nariman sent to the Constitution Bench to decide the petition, which objected to the recital of Sanskrit hymns like “tamso maa jyotirgamya” and “Asato Ma Sadgamaya” by students.
The plea filed by a lawyer Veenayak Shah contends that the compulsory singing of Sanskrit hymns at the school assembly every morning strangles the spirit of scientific inquiry and amounts to religious instruction, prohibited under the Constitution.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Kendriya Vidhyala Sangathan told the apex court that “tamso maa jyotirgamya” is written in Sanskrit and reciting hymns in Sanskrit doesn’t make anyone Hindu.
“It has nothing to do with religion. Just because it’s written Sanskrit doesn’t make it communal and non-secular,” Mehta contended.
The petition has challenged the education code for Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which requires morning assemblies to begin with the Sanskrit verse as a “common prayer” and end with another Sanskrit hymn, ‘Om Saha Navavatu’.
The petition states that the recital of hymns in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools across India promotes a particular religion and violates the Constitution.