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Indian court withdraws judge's 'Hindu nation' comment

Bishop Aind backs decision to overrule judgment that went against 'secular, democratic spirit of the constitution' reporter, Bhopal reporter, Bhopal

Updated: May 29, 2019 10:49 AM GMT
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Indian court withdraws judge's 'Hindu nation' comment

Indian voters queue to vote at a polling station in Meghalaya state on April 11 during India's general election. A judge's comment in a ruling by the state's high court has been withdrawn after it caused uproar. (Photo by David Talukdar/AFP)

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Church leaders in India have welcomed a state court overruling a judgment which contained a comment that India ought to have been declared a Hindu nation.

Meghalaya High Court in northeast India on May 24 withdrew the judgment, saying the single-bench judge’s comment was "legally flawed and inconsistent with constitutional principles."

In a petition concerning a domicile certificate, Judge S.R. Sen (now retired) observed that when British India was divided based on religion, Pakistan declared itself an Islamic country and India should have declared itself a Hindu country “but it remained as a secular country.”

Following an uproar, judges on a higher bench set aside Sen’s judgment and said its observations and directions were “totally superfluous.”

The court’s order is “truly in consonance with the secular character of our constitution,” said Salesian Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh in the northeast state of Assam.

“India being a secular country, no court is supposed to pass such an order that will go against the secular, democratic spirit of the constitution.”

Father Felix Anthony, spokesman for the North East Regional Bishops’ Council, told that the strength of India “is our inclusiveness and attempts to disturb it are very dangerous for the nation.”

Despite all its religious and ethnic differences, India remains together as a nation because of “our constitution and its secular character,” he said.

Father Anthony said that occasionally politicians make “divisive and sectarian comments” to meet their political ends, but such comments should not come from the judiciary.

“The judiciary is there to ensure justice to all irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or linguistic differences — it should not differentiate based on religion,” he said.

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