The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Monday wrote to the Bengaluru Urban deputy commissioner seeking an inquiry against a school for allegedly making Bible studies compulsory for students, India Today reported.
The Clarence High School, located in the city’s Richards Town area, reportedly asked parents to give an undertaking that their children would not object to carrying the Bible to school. The declaration was part of the application form for admission to Class 11.
“You affirm that your child will attend all classes including Morning Assembly Scripture Class and Clubs for his/her own moral and spiritual welfare and will not object to carry the Bible and Hymn Book during his/her stay at Clarence High School,” the declaration read.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights received a complaint against the school on April 22. The commission said that it was brought to its notice that the school has been “imposing Christian religious views” on minor children by making it mandatory for them to study the Bible.
The panel also took note of claims that the school had made it mandatory for students to attend Christian prayers and other activities associated with the religion.
In the letter to the Bengaluru official, J Manjunath, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said that the school had prima facie violated Articles 25 and 28(3) of the Constitution along with provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. While Article 25 deals with the freedom of conscience, Article 28(3) states that no person attending a State-recognised educational institution should be made to take part in religious activities there without the consent of a parent or guardian.
The commission requested Manjunath to initiate an inquiry and submit an action taken report to it within seven days.
On Monday, Hindutva organisation Hindu Janajagruti Samiti alleged that the school had been making it mandatory for non-Christian students to carry and read the Bible, ANI reported. The organisation’s spokesperson in Karnataka, Mohan Gowda, alleged that this violated Articles 25 and 30 of the Constitution.
Article 30 of the Constitution deals with the rights of minorities to set up and run educational institutions. The organisation did not state how the alleged action of the school violated this provision.
Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh said that no educational institution can mandate students to follow a religious practice and that strict action would be taken against institutions found to be doing so.
“I have not seen what exactly it is,” Nagesh said, referring to the allegations against the school. “I’ll ask my authorities to look into it and speak to management.”
The minister added, however, that he had heard that the school was a law-abiding one.
Jerry George Mathew, the principal of the Clarence High School, said that the institution will follow the advice of its lawyer on the matter and will not break the law. “We are aware that some people are upset about one of the policies of our school,” he said. “We are a peace-loving and law-abiding school.”