Can a coin issued by the government of a secular India bear the image of a Hindu deity?
Faced with this question filed in a petition by one Nafis Qazi, the Delhi high court on Wednesday questioned the legality of commemorative Rs. 5 and Rs. 10 coins issued by the RBI carrying the image of Hindu goddess Vaishno Devi.
It also asked the Centre and the RBI to explain if such a thing is justified under the Constitution.
By bringing out coins at regular intervals with religious symbols embossed on them, the government is indulging in anti-secular actions, Qazi alleged.
A division bench said the issue could lead to further complications if members of other communities raise it. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on August 20.
The RBI, which is known to issue such coins from time to time, had in April and August last year issued the coins to mark the “silver jubilee of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board”.
The legality of such coins had been raised by the HC earlier but the Centre had then defended itself by saying the coins were issued under the Coinage Act. The RBI issued seven commemorative coins last year, including one to mark 150 years of the Kuka movement.