A PIL filed before the SC challenges the recital of certain Sanskrit shlokas by all students in the assembly proceedings in KV schools. When the matter came up before the SC, the SG of the Union Govt argued that Sanskrit shlokas were a part of even the words written on the emblems of the Supreme Court and the Nation. His averment was that the words were secular and therefore cannot be declared a religious text forced on children in education.
The matter has been referred to a Constitution Bench.
The question to be framed to answer this issue is whether the Liberty of a child to be educated in a Govt. run school be taken away, if the compulsory recital of a phrase – moral in its content, but ostensibly taken from a religious text and uttered in a language which is neither the student’s medium of instruction nor a regional language – be not followed by any student.
Secondly, whether for non- recital of such shlokas a student could face penalty?
Thirdly, whether the school authorities have a Right to impose a duty on a child for recitation of an Ethical statement having a strong nexus with a Religious text, especially in a language which has no common application and stands in line with languages, like Latin, which are considered ‘dead’ but are in vogue only in religious ceremonies?
Fourthly, are the school authorities who are merely tasked with providing liberal education, become disciplining authorities in the event of disobedience or refusal by a student to submit to such recital on the grounds that the child believes or has been made to believe that the recitation of such shloka was an anathema to his or her religious beliefs?
The SG’s comparison of certain Sanskrit words like Satyame ve jayete, in Sanskrit is distinguishable on the grounds that those words, though taken from the religious texts of a particular religion, have been secularised in its application by serving as Declaratory statements and not a PERSONAL AFFIRMATION OF ANY INDIVIDUAL.
It would be interesting to watch the outcome in the next two decades!