NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 20, 2014 (Free Press Journal): The State should not be seen as propagating any religion and the word secularism should be construed in right context, the Delhi High Court today said while seeking response from the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India on a PIL for withdrawal of coins having religious symbols embossed on them. "The State should not be propagating any religion, be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity etc," a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B. D. Ahmed said.
The bench issued notices to the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and asked them to file a status report within three weeks detailing the policy under which the symbols of temples and deities are being embossed on coins.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Delhi residents, Nafis Qazi and Abu Sayeed, through lawyer A Rasheed Qureshi. "These symbols undermine the secular character, a basic feature of the Constitution.... The making, marking, naming, drawing, embossing or displaying overtly any religious figure or symbol is tantamount to espousing a religion by the State," the plea said.
The government, in 2010, brought into circulation a five rupee coin in celebration of 1000 years of Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur with its image embossed on it. "Again in 2013 the Respondent No. 2 (RBI) brought out another five Rupee coin with the figure of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board embossed on it," it said and termed the state action as "anti-secular".