3 May 2023 10:37 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea challenging the Uttar Pradesh Government's March 10 circular to provide financial aid (Rs. 1 Lakh to each district) for holding religious events during Navratri Puja and Ram Navami festivals that began on March 22. “…the said Government Order has been found issued, to publicize different...
The Allahabad High Court recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea challenging the Uttar Pradesh Government's March 10 circular to provide financial aid (Rs. 1 Lakh to each district) for holding religious events during Navratri Puja and Ram Navami festivals that began on March 22.
“…the said Government Order has been found issued, to publicize different development works and developments of basic amenities by the Tourism Department of the State Govt. and other departments of the State Government, at various temples. No amount has been found payable to any priest or for any purpose associated with the activities at any temple,” the bench of Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh said.
The bench also took into account a March 22 order of the coordinate bench of the High Court wherein it dismissed a similar petition challenging the same circular of UP Govt.
“A co-ordinate bench having already taken one view in the matter, we find no compelling reasoning to take a different view as may require reference to be made to a larger bench, in the present facts,” the Chief Justice led bench noted.
The Court also said that the test in such cases is to see if an action taken by the State (that may be challenged in those facts), falls foul with the constitutional scheme that guarantees secularism as an inalienable part of the basic structure of the constitution.
The Court further noted that in its March 22 order, the coordinate bench had applied the same test to reach the conclusion that the Government Order does not cause the effect of favouring any activity promoting any religion or religious denomination.
It may be noted that in the March 22 order, the Court observed that if the State spends some money out of the taxes/revenue collected by it from the citizens for providing some conveniences or facilities to any religious denomination, the same will not be violative of Article 27 of the Constitution of India.
In that order, the Court had categorically observed that there exists a distinction between a "religious activity" leading to maintaining or propagating a particular religion or religious denomination and a "secular activity" undertaken by the State to provide for certain conveniences at religious gatherings.
Read more about the Court’s observations here: State Utilizing A Small Part Of Tax To Provide Conveniences To Any Religious Denomination Doesn't Violate Article 27: Allahabad HC
The Court further noted that, as per Clause 9 of the impugned Government Order, a total expenditure contemplated under the Government Order was not to exceed Rs. 75,00,000/- at the rate of Rs. 1,00,000/- per district of the State, to be spent on payment to artists at no fixed rates, irrespective of a total number of artists.
“In the absence of any further disclosure made in the writ petition, that amount may be too minuscule or insignificant to warrant any further consideration in present facts,” the Bench said as it dismissed the plea.
Counsel for Petitioner: Akhilesh Kumar Gupta, Rakesh Kumar Gupta
Counsel for Respondent: Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal, Additional Chief Standing Counsel A.K. Goyal and Standing Counsel Akanksha Sharma
Case title - Rajeev Kumar Yadav vs. State Of Up And 3 Others [PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 699 of 2023]
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 142
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