Kerala Church welcomes state check on religious education
Muslim body petitioned court after one of its schools was closed for promoting exclusive religious instruction
Indian schoolchildren cheer during a cricket game in Siliguri in July 2019. Kerala High Court on Jan. 25 ruled that schools should impart religious students to students only with government approval (Photo: Diptemdu Dutta/AFP)
A church official in the southern Indian state of Kerala has welcomed a direction from the state’s High Court for privately run schools not to impart religious education without government permission.The court ruled on whether schools unaided by the state can promote a particular religion to the exclusion of other religions in elementary schools.“It is a welcome order and the government needs to know what kind of religious education is being imparted in a private school,” said Father Varghese Vallikkatt, deputy secretary-general of the regional body of Catholic bishops in Kerala.The court had considered a petition from Hidaya Educational and Charitable Trust, a Muslim body that runs several schools in the state.
It challenged the state shutting down one of its schools on grounds that it promoted exclusive religious instruction and admitted only Muslim students, violating India’s secular principles.The court’s Jan. 24 order said that “individual freedom available to a private body to promote its own beliefs or faith is not available to a private body when it discharges a public function. It is bound by public morality conceived in the constitution.
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