Make ‘Surya Namaskar’ voluntary: HC tells MP

Jabalpur: Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed that participation in mass Surya Namaskar and Pranayama programme being organised by the Madhya Pradesh government for school students on Thursday should be voluntary.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice A K Patnayak and Justice R S Jha, in an interim order on petitions filed by some Muslim organisations, held that the programme should be attended only by those who want to participate in it voluntarily.

No individual or institution should be forced to take part in the programme, the bench ordered while issuing notice to the state government to reply within four weeks on petitioner’s contention that the programme was aimed at saffronisation and would hurt religious sentiments of minority communities.

Arguing on behalf of petitioners Jamiat Ulma Hind and Bharatiya Muslim Sangh, their counsel contended that recital of certain ‘mantras’ during the programme would hurt the religious feelings of members belonging to minority communities.

Terming the programme as against the spirit of the Constitution, the petitioners alleged that it was aimed at promoting saffron ideology and said such activities should not be carried out by the government.

Appearing on behalf of the government, Advocate General Rabinandan Singh maintained that the circular issued on January 18, 2007 has already made it clear that the Surya Namaskar programme would be voluntary and not mandatory.

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