Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Secularism cannot be overstretched: Justice Katju

New Delhi: Rejecting the plea of a Muslim student that he should be permitted to sport beard in his convent school, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that secularism could not be overstretched and “Talibanisation” of the country could not be permitted.

“We don’t want to have Talibans in the country. Tomorrow a girl student may come and say that she wants to wear a burqa. Can we allow it,” asked Justice Markandey Katju, speaking for a Bench headed by Justice Raveendran. Asserting that he was a secularist to the core, Justice Katju, however, said religious beliefs could not be overstretched. “I am secularist. We should strike a balance between rights and personal beliefs. We cannot overstretch secularism.”
Plea dismissed

Justice Katju made these observations while dismissing the petition by Mohammad Salim of the Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognised minority institution in Madhya Pradesh, for quashing its regulation requiring students to be clean shaven. Challenging a Madhya Pradesh High Court verdict that earlier dismissed his plea, Salim said every citizen was entitled to follow his religious principles and no one should restrain him from doing so in a secular country.

Salim’s counsel Justice (retired) B.A. Khan argued that sporting a beard was an indispensable part of Islam.

“But you [Justice Khan] don’t sport a beard,” Justice Katju told counsel.

The court then said a minority institution had its own set of rules and rights provided by Article 30 of the Constitution and the same could not be breached by any person. “If there are rules you have to obey. You can’t say that I will not wear a uniform I will [wear] only a burqa,” the Bench observed.

The court said if the student was not interested in following the rules he would have the option of joining some other institution. “But you can’t ask the school to change the rules for you.” — PTI

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