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When SC said singing national anthem interferes with religious beliefs of a Jehovah

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New Delhi, Oct 15: The Sabarimala issue, post the verdict of the Supreme Court is quickly turning into a national movement. One has got to witness in recent days scores of people taking to the streets protesting the verdict of the court that permitted the entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala Temple.

File photo of Sabarimala Temple

Several questions have been asked on whether the court has the jurisdiction to interfere in religious matters.

Sabarimala verdict: Akhil Hindu Parishad stage protest in Trivandrum

Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone dissenting judge on the Bench of five said that issues raised have serious implications for all religions. She said that issues which have deep religious connotation should not be tinkered with to maintain a secular atmosphere in the country.

India has diverse religious practises and constitutional morality would allow anyone to profess and practise a religion she or he believes in and it is not for the court to interfere in such religious practises, even it may appear discriminatory. The present judgment will not be limited to Sabarimala alone and it will have wide ramifications. Issues of deep religious sentiments should not interfered into she said.

She further said that what is essential practise in a religion is for the religion to decide. It is a matter of personal faith and India is a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in A pluralistic society gives freedom to practise even irrational customs. She also added that judges cannot intervene and decide on whether a practice is violative of fundamental rights or not. Personal views of judges do not matter. A religious denomination has freedom to believe and even practice even if their beliefs are illogical or irrational, she added.

It is mindset not the religion that stops women not being allowed in religious shrines

Courts need to circumspect:

Advocate K N Phanindra, tells OneIndia that courts need to circumspect while dealing with religious matters. Earlier judgments in so far as religious matters have been clear that the court cannot interfere in such matters. He further added that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily interfered by the court.

Phanindra cites the Bejoe Emmaneul case of 1986, where the court had upheld freedom to practise religion. Three children belonging to the Jehovah sect were expelled from school after they refused to sing the national anthem. They said that they desisted from actual singing only because of their honest belief and conviction that their religion does not permit them to join any rituals except it be in their prayers to Jehovah their

God.

The court had held in this case the fundamental rights under Article 19 (1) (a) and 25 (1) had been infringed and they are entitled to be protected. The court said that it was satisfied that in the present case the expulsion of the three children from the school for the reason that because of their conscientiously held religious faith, they do not join the singing of the national anthem in the morning assembly though they do stand up respectfully when the anthem is sung, is a violation of their fundamental right to freedom of conscience and freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.

In the plea seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict, it has been stated that 'without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance effectively has the effect of holding that the character of the deity can be altered based on individual faith and belief, in violation of the tenets of a particular religion and or religious sect.

Sabarimala: SC imposed a post Victorian thought on us, which is opposed to Indian ethos

The petitioners also argued that besides "patent legal errors" in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice is based on notions of menstrual impurity is "factually erroneous".

Pointing to massive protests against the verdict by women worshippers, the petitioners said: "The subsequent events that transpired after the judgment clearly demonstrate that overwhelmingly large section of women worshippers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of women in the menstruating age group to the temple."

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