Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected plea asking for interim lifting of the…
MUMBAI: Two Pune residents have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court (HC), seeking directions to lower courts and its staff to allow atheists to take oaths while deposing in court by keeping their hands on the Indian Constitution.
Sunil Mane and wife Laxmikanta Mane, in their petition, cited two court incidents, in Bhiwandi and Pune, where two government officers had wanted to take oath by putting their hands on the Constitution, but were not allowed to do so.
Under the Oaths Act of 1969, which is still in force, a witness can swear by Universal God without referring to any religious denomination, the petition said.
The format prescribed is: “I do swear in the name of God, solemnly affirm that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Further, it says that inside courts ‘the Constitution of India’ is the only holy book. The petitioners wish to assert that the Constitution is, in fact, the only modern sacred book and the democratic values in the society are real progressive thought of religion to be followed. A person of any religion cannot object to taking oath on the Constitution as it is our duty to abide by the Constitution. This will help in unnecessary flaring of communal thoughts, and also not create problems for people who are atheists.
The petition states that cases like those of the two public servants are happening in various courts, but in the absence of any legal provision, the courts are not allowing the witnesses to depose.
People who are not believers but have full faith in the Indian Constitution are being denied permission to depose during judicial proceedings at various levels in Maharashtra when they request that they will administer oath in the name of the Indian Constitution.
The liberty of thoughts, expression, belief and faith is inclusive of not keeping any belief on concept of God and all such persons also have the right to follow their belief and faith.
The petition, which will come up for hearing in due course, prays for directions from the court to declare that those, who are not willing to take oath in the name of God or by putting their hands on any religious book, shall be allowed to take oath in the name of Indian Constitution. Guidelines are issued to all courts in Maharashtra with respect to The Oaths Act 1969 and Indian Constitution. All courts in Maharashtra are given instruction on taking suo moto action proactively against the people giving false affidavits