The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a mandamus cannot be issued to the authorities to issue of a certificate stating that a person does not belong to any religion, has no caste and does not believe in any god.
Disposing of the petition filed in this behalf, Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa said,
"if the petitioner has chosen a path of an Atheist and not to believe in any caste, class, there would be no requirement in law for him to be issued a certificate to such effect. Even if any such certificate had been issued by the Naib Tehsildar concerned and the same having subsequently been cancelled, it would be of no consequence".
In the backdrop of the case, the Naib Tehsildar, Fatehabad had issued a certificate to the Petitioner, Ravi Kumar Atheist, certifying that he is an Atheist and does not belong to any caste, religion and does not believe in God. Subsequently however, cancellation of the said certificate was communicated to the Petitioner, who initiated the present proceedings.
Advocate Ashok Goel, on behalf of the Petitioner, submitted that the Petitioner was vested with the right to be issued a certificate in the nature of no caste, no religion and no God.
He submitted that as per Article 25 of the Constitution, every Indian citizen has a right to practice and propagate a religion of his own choice and a citizen cannot be forced to follow any particular religion. The Petitioner, a person belonging to Scheduled Caste category, did not wish to derive any benefit of reservation under the Constitution and wished to promote a casteless society. He submitted that caste and religion created disparity in society and were thus opposed to the directive principles of the Constitution and a welfare state.
Accepting the aforesaid arguments, the Petitioner's request for issue of a certificate was denied. While the court agreed that the freedom conferred by Article 25 of the Constitution included a right of an individual to claim that he is an 'Atheist', the Petitioner had failed to demonstrate the prejudice that he would suffer on account of non-issuance of certificate.
The court said that no authority had the power to impose upon the Petitioner to profess any particular religion or for him to believe in God. In such circumstances, issue of a certificate was unnecessary. Furthermore, the Petitioner had also failed to cite any provision in law whereby the Respondent authorities were obligated to issue such a certificate.
In view thereof, the court held,
"No Mandamus as such can be issued to direct the respondent authorities to issue to the petitioner a certificate of no caste, no religion and no God".
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