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Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JUIH) has moved the Gujarat High Court challenging a resolution by the Gujarat state’s Department of Education that makes it mandatory for students of classes 6 to 12 to study the Bhagavad Gita, reported Bar and Bench.
As per the report, the Bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri sought the government’s response to the plea but refused to entertain the request for a stay order. JUIH said in its plea that the move was an exercise of power that violated Articles 14, 28 and other fundamental rights. Further, it said the move also went against secularism, a basic feature of the Constitution.
The organisation argued that the resolution further violated Article 28, providing that no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds. Meanwhile, regarding the Bhagavad Gita it was pointed out that it is a religious book of Hindus. As such, the petitioners voiced concern that educating students in only one religion will indoctrinate youths about one religion over others. They argued that this affects free choice and conscience guaranteed under Articles 21 and 25.
“The impugned resolution under the garb of implementing a value-based education system is rationally (sic), and without adequate determining principle, selects one book as a book of values and mandates teaching the same,” stated the plea.
Accusing the government of wrongly taking inspiration from the latest revisions in the National Education Policy (NEP), petitioners said that the resolution fails to uphold Article 51 A(h) promoting specific temper, humanism, and the spirit of enquiry.
Stressing that moral values in a secular state must focus on equality, fraternity, and justice as enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution, it asked the court to stay the resolution. Although the same was rejected, the division bench listed the case for further hearing on August 18.
The government decision comes amidst a time when the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is also revising its textbooks. However, even here, academicians raised concern about how the NCERT is deleting content related to caste, religious discrimination, references to Jawaharlal Nehru, Mughal emperors and text dealing with Muslim stereotypes in its latest review of school textbooks, reported The Telegraph.
This is especially pertinent amidst an environment of growing Islamophobia given how Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan recently accused madrasas of advocating beheading as a punishment for blasphemy. This was in relation to the heinous Udaipur murder where two Islamic hardliners brutally murdered a Hindu tailor for supporting ex-BJP leader Nupur Sharma.
Such attacks on various educational institutions in India reflect the changing socio-political environment of the country.
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