Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dismisses PIL, Imposes Fine On Petitioner,HC defends rituals on court campus

Ahmedabad: A division bench of the Gujarat high court on Thursday defended the act of performing Hindu religious rituals during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the extended court campus on May 1 last year. 
   The high court dismissed a public interest litigation which questioned the act on the ground that it was religious and non-secular and not encouraged by principles of the Constitution. The petitioner, a Dalit activist and writer Rajesh Solanki, urged the court to declare the act as unconstitutional, because performance of Hindu rituals could shake the faith of people from other religions in the judiciary.
   The court has not only rejected the contention, but even slapped a penalty of Rs 20,000 on Solanki after raising questions on his intention. “It appears that the petition has been filed with extraneous considerations which are not disclosed by the petitioner since he has tried to expose the cause of the organisation behind him or the other persons,” the court observed.
   The PIL first came up for hearing before Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya, but he refused to hear it because he too was part of the ceremony along with the governor and other judges of Supreme Court and high court.
   Justifying the rituals, the high court stated that laying foundation for the court building is for betterment of mankind and people of all religion would be benefited. “Offering of prayer by any person for betterment of everybody cannot be termed as any activity or any action resulting into non-secular activity,” the court noted.
   Citing various court orders and ancient scriptures a division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and J C Upadhyay said praying to earth is a “noble cause”. “If such important event is celebrated by the state or the high court, by no stretch of imagination it can be said that such action of celebration is non-secular in any manner.”

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