Can refusal to fold hands during prayer be called indiscipline, asks Bench

Nashik-based teacher Sanjay Salve, who refused to fold his hands during religious prayers at his school, has found support from the Bombay High Court. “How can a state-funded school term this indiscipline,” asked a Division Bench on Friday.

The Bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Revati Mohite Dhere was hearing a writ petition filed by Mr. Salve against the school’s managing committee.

The Hindu had reported the teacher’s six-year fight against the school management. The Savitribai Phule Secondary School had withheld Mr. Salve’s increments as he refused to participate in the daily prayer. Mr. Salve’s argument is that he is an atheist and that compulsory prayer goes against the Constitution. (“Pray, what wrong did I do, asks atheist teacher,” The Hindu, September 1).

The management’s lawyer argued that prayers are part and parcel of value education. “Can there be any objection to imparting value education,” he asked. The Bench observed that the case would stand only if Mr. Salve showed disrespect while others were praying.

The next hearing is on September 20.

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