Gujarat high court’s secular credentials questioned in PIL

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

GANDHINAGAR - A Gujarat High Court bench headed by Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya Tuesday refused to hear a public interest suit questioning the court’s secular credentials.

The bench of Chief Justice Mukhopadhaya and Justice K.M. Thaker said: “Let the matter be listed before another bench where the chief justice is not a member.”

Petitioner Raju Solanki, who appeared in person before the court, questioned a religious ceremony held as per Hindu rituals in the court’s premises during a golden jubilee function May 1, 2010.

According to the petitioner, Governor Kamla Beniwal, the chief justice and other judges of the high court were present at the ceremony.

The petitioner annexed a photograph of the governor and the chief justice performing rituals in the presence of a Hindu priest.

Solanki said in the petition that the state, as defined under the constitution, was required to restrain itself from being associated with any religious faith.

“The ‘pooja’ (prayer) is symbolising that the state recognised Hinduism as state religion,” the petition said.

It said the high court was a public body and protector of the constitution and fundamental rights of citizens. It should not associate with any particular religious faith.

The state, the high court on its administrative side and the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association have been made respondents in the public interest litigation.

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