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Time to shed prejudice: Madras HC on plea restraining Tamil Nadu CM Stalin from heading advisory committee under Hindu RCE Act

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The Madras High Court on Monday refused to restrain Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin from heading any advisory committee under Section 7 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, stating that this is a secular country and it is time that prejudice and vendetta is shed, particularly when it comes to practicing religion.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu, made the observation while dismissing a PIL that sought to restrain Mr Stalin from heading any advisory committee, unless he took a pledge before a Hindu god in a Hindu temple in the presence of two witnesses.

The Bench proceeded to highlight that even the Constitution permits the oath of office to be taken either in the name of God or in the name of the Constitution of India.

Section 7 (1)(a) of the Act lays down that the State’s Chief Minister will be the ex-officio Chairman of the Advisory Committee constituted under the Act. Appearing party-in-person, Advocate S Sridharan raised concern that the present Chief Minister is a non-believer.

However, the Bench expressed its strong disinclination to entertain the case, terming it utterly mischievous, in extreme bad taste and devoid of any public interest.

“There has to be a time when the prejudice and vendetta has to be shed particularly when it comes to practicing the religion. This is a secular country and secularism implies tolerance for other religions. This country also provides for freedom of expression to its citizens, which in turn implies lending a year to the other point of view,” the Court said in its order.

“It does not appear that any religion preaches narrow mindedness or requires followers of another faith to be hurt or injured. The sentiment expressed in the petition cannot be appreciated in this day and age,” the Court added.

Also Read: Supreme Court to continue hearing suo motu plea regarding safety of judges today

While the petition was dismissed without any costs, the Court barred the petitioner from filing any PILs for a five year period without first obtaining permission from the relevant Bench.

“Though no costs are imposed on petitioner the petitioner will not be entitled to file any PILs for a period of five years from date without obtaining the previous permission from the relevant bench in such regard”, the Court said.

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