Mumbai: Observing that 'Surya Namaskar' is just a form of exercise good for the body, the Bombay High Court Friday declined to grant an interim stay on a resolution by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) making the yoga and (sun salutation) mandatory in the civic schools in the metropolis.
The court made the observation on a PIL challenging the August 23 resolution adopted by the Shiv Sena-BJP controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which sparked protest from the opposition parties dubbing it as part of the move to "saffronise" education, according to PTI.
The petitioner, Masood Ansari, a social worker, had sought a stay on the civic body resolution holding that it violated fundamental rights and is "malafide and bad in law".
He said children attending the BMC-run schools mostly belong to poorer sections of society and come from all religions, castes and communities.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak observed that people should not look at it just by the name 'Surya Namaskar'.
"Don't go by the name...it is just a form of exercise which is good for the body," Justice Chellur said.
The HC, while posting the petition for further hearing after two weeks, declined to grant an interim stay on implementation of the resolution.
Anjali Awasthi, counsel for the petitioner, argued that minor students cannot be expected to perform 'Surya Namaskar', which is a combination of 12 'asanas', daily.
To this, the HC said it would consider this argument at a later stage and would call for a report to ascertain if the sun salutation exercise can be performed by minors.
The BMC last month had adopted the proposal moved by BJP corporator Samita Kamble to make the Surya Namaskar mandatory in over 1,200 municipal schools.
The resolution was backed by the ruling Shiv Sena, but triggered sharp reaction from the Congress and other opposition parties even as the BJP defended the move saying that religious motives should not be infused into the decision.
The issue of making Surya Namaskar and singing Vande Mataram mandatory in schools were in debate when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was leading independent India's first government led by the BJP at the centre. As today, Muslims across the country opposed the move tooth and nail at that time too.
According to the reports, Vajpayee who was on a visit to Lucknow called on former rector of Nadwatul Ulema and then President of the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Syed Ali Miya Nadvi right at the renowned Muslim seminary.
Vajpayee reportedly sought Ali Miya Nadvi's support on the issue. But, the senior most cleric of the time turned down the former prime minister's request.
"No matter if all Muslim children remain illetrate. But, I can't allow them do any act which threaten or challenge their faith", Ali Miya Nadvi said to Vajpayee.