Delhi High Court seeks Centre's response on PIL to include 'Dharma' in school syllabus [8.11.2023]

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre and the Delhi Government on a public interest litigation (PIL) for direction to include a chapter on 'Dharma and Religion' in the syllabus and curriculum of the primary and secondary schools in order to educate the masses and control religion-based hatred and hate speeches.

The plea further sought direction to the Centre and the Delhi state government to use the proper meaning of the religion that is Panth or Sampradaya, not the Dharma as a synonym of the term religion in official documents like Birth Certificates, Aadhar Card, School Certificate, Ration Card, Driving Licence, Domicile Certificate, Death Certificate and Bank Account etc.

The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela after noting down the submissions, issued notice to all respondents and listed the matter for January 2024 for further hearing on the issue.

The plea has been moved by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a practising lawyer and Delhi BJP leader, stating that Dharma is non-divisive, non-exclusive and non-conclusive. Dharma is a quest for understanding the cosmic order of the universe and consciousness order at a personal level. 'Dharma', in fact, transcended narrow boundaries of religion.

According to the petition, Dharma offers limitless freedom of choice of methods as well as goals. It is inherently secular which can even include those who question'Dharma' itself. It encourages free inquiry and never seeks to confine people to categories and denominations. It is this inherent tolerance and Catholicity that enabled people, in ancient times, to pursue faiths independent of their rulers and vice-versa.

The rights and duties of the rulers and citizens, though never codified were always respected. Each institution of the society, each individual, almost intuitively knew where to draw the line, where to define the limit. Tolerance is, therefore, integral to 'Dharma', plurality is inherent in it. This tolerance and plurality do not find space in the concept of religion, the plea added

It also stated that Panth and Sampradaya have some lack of knowledge. There are many things in Sampradaya that are not logical. There have been many wars and war-like situations for religion. Religion works on a mass of people. In religion, people follow someone or someone's path. On the other hand, Dharma is a work of wisdom.

08 Nov 2023