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23rd March 2024 (10 Topics)

UP Madarsa Act, a violation of secularism: Allahabad HC

Context

In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court has struck down the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004 (Madarsa Act, 2004) enacted by the state government.

Key-points highlighted by the High Court

  • Terming the Act unconstitutional, the Allahabad High Court said the Act found to be a violation of secularism. 
  • The court said it was not possible to segregate and save any portion of the Act which would be of any relevance and maintained.
  • The state has no power to create a board for religious education or to establish board for school education only for a particular religion and philosophy associated with it.
  • It was the duty of the state to provide education, which is secular in nature, more particularly for minors, that is children up to the age of 18.
  • It cannot discriminate and provide different types of education to children belonging to different religions.
  • Any such action on the part of state would be violative of secularism.

1: Dimension- Secularism and Education in India:

  • Secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • The value of Secularism is deeply ingrained all through, and particularly in Articles 14, 19, 22, and 25.
  • Education, being a fundamental right under Article 21-A of the Constitution, holds immense significance in fostering a democratic society and promoting social cohesion.
  • Secularism in education implies that the state must provide education that is free from religious bias or affiliation.
  • It entails offering a curriculum that is inclusive of diverse perspectives, cultures, and beliefs, fostering a spirit of tolerance, pluralism, and respect for individual autonomy.

2: Dimension- Impact of Denial

  • Education, as a tool for empowerment and social transformation, must be accessible to all, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
  • Denying certain groups access to quality education based on religious grounds not only perpetuates social inequality but also undermines the foundational principles of democracy and secularism.

3: Dimension- Significance of the Ruling

  • The Allahabad High Court's ruling underscores the importance of upholding secular principles in education.
  • By deeming the Act unconstitutional for its violation of secularism, the court reaffirmed the state's obligation to provide education that transcends religious boundaries and caters to the holistic development of all students.

Mains Practice Question

Q: “The intersection of secularism and education in India highlights the imperative of ensuring that educational institutions uphold secular values and provide equal opportunities for all students”. Comment

UPSC PYQ

  1. Are tolerance, assimilation and pluralism the key elements in the making of an Indian form of secularism? Justify your answer. (UPSC 2022)
  2. What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (UPSC 2019)

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