NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court sent a notice to the Centre questioning the 'Hindu' school prayer at government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas which makes students to recite Sanskrit and Hindi verses with folded palms and closed eyes during morning assemblies or 'face public humiliation in front of the entire school.'
The apex court wants the Centre's response on why the school prayer in KVs should be allowed, because government- aided schools aren't supposed to propagate any religion.
The SC posed this question to the Centre as it agreed to hear a public interest litigation which says that the school prayer in KVs propagates Hindu religion, and therefore should not be allowed, because KVs are government-run schools.
A Bench led by Rohinton Nariman found the petition raises an issue where a secular State, which is supposed to have no religion, is compelling students drawn from diverse faiths and beliefsto recite a prayer which is 'based on Hindu religion', under a threat of punishment.
The petition said the common prayer amounted to 'religious instruction' and it is constitutionally impermissible to impose the prayer on students of other faiths and beliefs.
Students have a fundamental right to pray according to the practices of their religion or not pray at all.
Kendriya Vidyalayas function under the aegis of the Ministry Of Human Resource Developmemnt (MHRD). The Union Minister is the Chairman. The schools, which have been existence for over 50 years, make one of world's largest chain of educational institutions spread over regions with diverse languages, culture and traditions.
There are 1,125 KVs in India and three KVs abroad, as per 2015 numbers. There are approximately 11 lakh students enroled in these schools.