A question of the Apex Court

“Do people belonging to Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religious groups fall under the Hindu personal law?” The Apex Court has raised this question in response to a petition, and issued orders to issue notices to the Union Government and its Attorney General. A well-known Sikh scholar Birendra Kaur, in her petition, has challenged the attempts of the related Sections of the Constitution and other legislations to obliterate the separate identity of Sikhism by recognizing its followers under the broad religious connotation of Hindus. This lady scholar said this negated the constitutional guarantee to each individual to practise and propagate the religion of his/her choice. Earlier, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed this petition by Birendra Kaur but the Supreme Court not only allowed the petition for hearing but also raised the question before the Government and Attorney General and issued notices to them. (The Times of India, Nov. 13) The petitioner says that adopting one law for all religions is one thing but declaring other religions as parts of one particular religion is entirely different. “Would it be acceptable if the name of the Hindu Marriage Act was changed to Buddhist Marriage Act and made applicable to all four religions?”

It’s their internal matter
Which religious group adopts what status for itself is of course its internal matter, the right of which rests with it alone; no one else should cast opinion thereon. The Jain community has acquired the status of minority so that they might run their institutions under the facilities and privileges given to minorities. Although the Buddhist community calls itself a separate entity yet it has not been able to detach itself from the Hindu religion for the sake of reservation and government quotas. The history of Sikhism, according to our knowledge, is that Baba Nanak founded it on monotheism, viz. the concept of one creator and master and he was dead against idol worship but after Baba Guru Nanak, during the times of Guru Gobind Singh, its shape was changed and it came close to Hindu precepts and traditions. It is said to the extent that Khalsa panth was established for the protection of Hindu religion. However, many Sikh scholars, including Birendra Kaur take Sikhism as a separate and complete religion and in no way a part of any other religion; it has its own laws and bylaws, customs and traditions.

Our relation with this discussion
As mentioned above this is the internal matter of Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist religions, we have no direct relation with this issue. However, there is somewhat relation with it from one aspect. Here is a group that claims to be the “majority” religion; Vishwa Hindu Parishad represents it. The group claims that it consists of 80 to 85 per cent population, so it should dominate. On the basis of its so-called majority, it keeps on making efforts in different ways to subjugate minorities especially Muslims. Besides the above mentioned religions, it also declares those crores of Adivasis who in the known terms do not belong to any religion; these Adivasis have their own traditions and respective local beliefs and ways of living; they do not care even about who takes them in which way and who says what about them. But the Hindu Parishad men impose the authority of their artificial majority on Muslims. – This is another matter that the provocations and slogans of the Parishad make these people (Adivasis) gather around them. Can’t it be that some governmental or non-governmental institution conducts a survey to find out that with respect to faith and practice which is the most organised and comprehensive as well as the largest religion in the country?

22/ 11/12 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf

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