Why make everyone swear in the name of God, Assam court of petitions lawyer



Oaths Act 1969 violates rights of non-believers who swear by scientific thought, Assam-based lawyer says in petition

Oaths Act 1969 violates rights of non-believers who swear by scientific thought, Assam-based lawyer says in petition

Why should an atheist or non-believer swear in the name of God, an Assam lawyer asked at the Gauhati High Court.

Fazluzzaman Mazumder, a barrister who practices in court, said the 1969 Oaths Act which involves swearing in the name of God in a courtroom is an obstacle to the exercise of liberal and scientific thought guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

In his petition to the court, he said that Form 1 and Section 6 of the Oaths Act requires a person to swear in the name of God while declaring anything in court. While Article 25 protects the rights of believers and non-believers, he questioned why an atheist petitioner should be required to take an oath in the name of God.

Mr Mazumder said he “does not believe in supernatural power or entity at all” as a “secular, liberal, science-minded citizen” and believes there is “no religion greater than fraternity and humanity”. He does not observe any religious rituals in his personal life and therefore does not believe in the existence of God, he said.

He added that his right not to believe in any religion or supernatural entity is recognized and guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. The essence of Article 25 is that the right to practice a religion includes the right not to practice it, he argued.

“In addition, Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their own affairs in matters of religion provided that the same honors are of public order, morality and health,” reads his petition filed before the court. High Court on November 10.

“The petitioner states that there may be many people who do not like to be associated with a particular religion… Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees a citizen’s right to ‘freedom of conscience’ . Where a person has the right to freedom of conscience and if his conscience suggests that he should not follow any religion, then his right should also be granted as of right,” the petition states.

Mr. Mazumder also observed that Rule 30, Chapter IV of the Gauhati High Court Rule, 2015 creates an obstacle to living according to his belief.

The rule in question, he pointed out, states that “in administering the oath and solemn affirmation to declarants, the magistrate, notary or such officer or other person as the High Court appoints shall be guided by the Oaths Act 1873 and swear to be made in the name of God”.

He referred to the observation of the Supreme Court in the Sri Laxmi Yatendrulu case that “section 25 guarantees to everyone subject to public order, health and morals, freedom not only to maintain his religious convictions, but also to display his belief in such outward act as he deems appropriate to propagate or disseminate his ideas for the edification of others”.

“…In the case of AS Narayan V from the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Supreme Court observed that “our Constitution officials had used the word religion in articles 25 and 26 in the sense conveyed by the word dharma. The Honorable Supreme Court further explained the difference between religion and dharma as “religion is enriched by visionary methodology and theology, while dharma flourishes in the realm of direct experience”. Religion contributes to the changing phases of a culture; dharma enhances the beauty of spirituality,” Mazumder said.

The court is due to hear the motion on November 14.

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