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Public interest litigation challenges Hindu religious ritual for Highcourt as unconstituonal

14 January 2011

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Indian Express

PIL in HC on Bhoomi Pujan stumps CJ

Express News Service

Wed Jan 12 2011, 01:07 hrs Ahmedabad:

Chief Justice, who attended the function, recuses himself

A Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice K M Thaker on Tuesday recused itself from hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the performance of Hindu rituals during Bhoomi Pujan for the construction of an auditorium in the HC Complex in Ahmedabad in May last year.

Justice Mukhopadhaya was present during the Bhoomi Pujan, which is being built as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations for the Gujarat High Court. Governor Kamla Beniwal and some other judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court were also present during the function on May 1, 2010.

A civil rights activist, Rajesh Solanki, has filed the PIL challenging the act of performing Hindu ritual inside the HC premises.

The petitioner has contended that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and that since the HC is the ultimate protector of Constitution within the State of Gujarat, the ceremony as per Hindu rituals may lead people of Gujarat to lose their faith on the court.

The petitioner also demanded that the act of performing Hindu rituals for a function inside HC premises be declared unconstituonal and that the court give appropriate direction to ensure secularism is not violated in any manner in Gujarat.

The petition came up for hearing before the Division Bench of HC on Tuesday.

Solanki, who is appearing as party-in-person in the matter, attempted to start his arguments when the Chief Justice said “not before me” and ordered the matter to be put before another appropriate Bench.