Religion-based education schemes violate Constitution: Guj HC

Education schemes

The Gujarat High Court today held the Government cannot give monetary benefits to any community on the basis of religion as such a move will violate Constitution that bars discrimination on religious ground.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala made this observation while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which sought directions to the Gujarat Government to implement a Centre sponsored pre- metric scholarship scheme launched nationwide in 2008. The PIL was filed by a Congress leader from Kutch, Adam Chaki.

However, the Bench declined to give any direction since a contradictory view was taken by another Division Bench of the High Court earlier on a similar petition.

Instead, it referred the issues raised in the PIL to a larger bench, which would decide if the pre-metric scholarship scheme for students from minority communities was violative of the Constitution and whether the High Court can direct a State Government to implement the scheme.

The Bench noted held that Government cannot give monetary benefits to a community on religious lines as such a move was in violation of Article 15(1) of the Constitution.

"There cannot be scope of conferring monetary benefits based on religion," it observed.

The Central scheme is targeted at pre-matric students belonging to religious minorities whose parents have annual income below Rs 1 lakh. Under it, the Centre gives 75 per cent of the scholarship amount while states have to bear the rest.

The Gujarat Government had refused to implement the scheme, saying it was discriminatory in nature. The Government had further said it was providing scholarships to poor students of all communities.

In 2010, a Division Bench had upheld the Centre's funding of schemes related to minority welfare.

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