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Don?t force students: HC to Govt

THE MP High Court?s principal bench in Jabalpur on Wednesday directed the State Government not to compel students to perform Surya Namaskar and Pranayam on January 25.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 11:07 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

THE MP High Court’s principal bench in Jabalpur on Wednesday directed the State Government not to compel students to perform Surya Namaskar and Pranayam on January 25.

The State Government has, meanwhile, made elaborate arrangements for the exercise even as several Muslim organisations announced plans to stage a protest in Bhopal.

The court issued notices to the State Government and others during the preliminary hearing of two writ petitions filed by some Muslim organisations seeking direction to the government to exempt the students of their community in government and private schools on January 25.

The HC restrained educational institutions from expelling students who did not perform Surya Namaskar and Pranayam, and the State Government from de-recognising educational institutions that do not comply with its order of January 2.

Bharatiya Muslim Sangh, Darul Uloom Faizan-e-Mustafa and Tahreek-e-Islam Muslim Committee Seoni counsel N S Kale and Harvindar Singh said the government order violates provisions of Article 28 (1) of the Constitution, as the State Government was sponsoring it.

As per Article 28 (1), no state-sponsored religious instructions shall be provided in any educational institution, the counsel said.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind counsel June Chaudhary said her client was not opposed to Surya Namaskar exercise, but was aggrieved with chanting of mantras while doing it. She said if the State Government excluded the mantra-chanting, her client had no problem with the government initiative.

Besides, she said the government directive to private educational institutions warning them of losing recognition if they did not participate was bad in the eye of the law and unconstitutional. Issuing the interim order, a division bench comprising Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Justice R S Jha said no one would be forced to do Surya Namaskar and Pranayam in educational institutions. Advocate General R N Singh told the court there was no compulsion on any one to participate in the exercise.

Singh said chanting of mantras while doing exercise was part of Yoga and the State Government initiative was part of national policy on promotion of Yoga.

The government has made elaborate arrangements to administer Surya Namaskar across the State’s educational institutions. Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev was scheduled to administer the Surya Namaskar at Bhopal but he is not coming, as he is in Bangkok.

It was on Baba’s advice that the government undertook the controversial programme a fortnight ago. Collectors and school education officers have been asked to ensure maximum participation of people, particularly students, in Surya Namaskar across the State.

Ministers have been allotted districts where they have to ‘compulsorily’ take part in Surya Namaskar. However, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has clarified that the Surya Namaskar programme was part of Yoga teaching but not compulsory for students. Not satisfied with the CM’s assurance, several Muslim organisations decided to stage a symbolic sit-in at Iqbal Maidan, in Bhopal, on Thursday to register their protest.

Addressing a press conference in Bhopal, State Minorities Commission former chairman Ibrahim Qureshi and a local leader Arif Masood alleged that the BJP Government’s focus was more on divisive issues than development.Qureshi, who represents MP Muslim Education Society, said the government circular clearly stated that ‘mantras’ and ‘shlokas’ had to be chanted during Surya Namaskar.“Earlier, the BJP Government forced children to sing Vande Mataram, and now they are being forced to perform Surya Namaskar,” said Arif Masood.

He said the dharna would be held from noon to 2 pm. Various organisations, Muslim groups like Milli Council, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, social activists and prominent citizens from various faiths will participate in the dharna.

First Published: Jan 25, 2007 11:07 IST