The Supreme Court of India said on Friday that “religion is important in our country only when it is relevant under the law; otherwise, for all purposes, India is a secular country.”
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Case title: Md Imran and Ors v. UOI And Ors. WP (C) No. 57/2023 PIL
It was orally observed by a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna that “religion is important when it is important.” How? when it is relevant under the law. Otherwise, we have a secular nation, and everything we do has to imbibe that spirit. “Both citizens and the state.”
The Court was hearing a public interest litigation that sought enforcement of the RTE Act (Right to Education Act) in educational institutions to be run by notified minorities. The petition prayed for the enforcement of Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act, which mandates non-minority private unaided schools to keep aside or reserve at least 25% of their entry-level seats for the children belonging to the disadvantaged sections, to create a more integrated and inclusive schooling system. They highlighted the issue of the withdrawal of the pre-matric scholarship scheme for minorities, which contributed to easing the financial burden on the minorities and encouraged them to complete their school education.
During the hearing, the Court questioned the petitioner about why he had taken up the cause of RTE only for minority communities.
The petitioner’s advocate replied by saying, “Now the problem is, they have given a list.” 18 states have admitted children under Section 12(1)(c). We are 28 states. That means, it is not being fully implemented.
The bench asked for a definition of the weaker section of the petitioner’s advocate.
“What do you mean by weaker sections?” “Is there a definition?”
The bench asked while adding, “Why was the majority community excluded?”
The advocate replied, “They stand on a different pedestal.”
The bench stated that they had no issue with the plea, which was for getting benefits for the minority community. But the Bench stated that
“Your plea says Muslims so and so, Christians so and so. Why are you limiting it to the minority community alone? Members of all communities belonging to the weaker sections should get the benefit. “Why is it that you have given special emphasis to the minority?”
The advocate was of the opinion that the effect of non-implementation would affect the students of minority communities more. The bench observed that the prayers pointed to religious minorities in all states.
The plea highlighted the religious minorities only while pleading for 25% of reservations in educational institutions and did not include all the members belonging to the weaker section.
The advocate further clarified, “If the section is implemented, the benefit will flow down to the religious minorities.” He then stated that he would amend his prayers.
“I will amend my prayer, I don’t want the issue to die down,” the advocate said.
Following the bench’s suggestion, the advocate said that he would file a fresh plea.
The Supreme Court declared, “The petition is dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty to file a fresh plea.”