Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?

Right to privacy debate

Whether citizens of India have a fundamental right of privacy?

The controversy about right to privacy has been argued in a larger constitution bench of nine judges and judgement has been reserved. But what exactly is the controversy?

The fourth Amendment in the Constitution of USA provide following clause:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Constitution of India has no such clause but in some of the cases the right to privacy has been read into the right to life because the life means a meaningful life and not merely an animal existence. Thus to make life more than animal existence, privacy is held to be part of right to life guaranteed by article 21 o Constitution of India, which is as under:

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Continue reading “Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?”

Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence

Jurisdiction of High Court under article 227.

Article 227 is as under:

227. Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court
(1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories interrelation to which it exercises jurisdiction
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the High Court may
(a) call for returns from such courts;
(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts; and
(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts; Continue reading “Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence”

Validity of Appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in India

Ceiling on number of Ministers.

Article 164(1A) of the Constitution of India is as under:

The total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed fifteen per cent of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State:

Provided that the number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in a State shall not be less than twelve;

Provided further that where the total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in any State at the commencement of the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003 exceeds the said fifteen per cent or the number specified in the first proviso, as the case may be, then the total number of Ministers in that State shall be brought in conformity with the provisions of this clause within six months from such date as the President may by public notification appoint.

Jumbo Cabinet in Assam.

Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, 2004

On 3.11.2004, the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, 2004 was promulgated which inter alia provided as under:

The Chief Minister may, having regard to the circumstances and the need of the situation, at any time appoint such number of Parliamentary Secretaries and assign to each of them such duties and functions as he may deem fit and proper.

Section 4 declares that Parliamentary Secretary should be of the rank and status of a Minister of State and exercise such powers, discharge such functions and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Chief Minister.

Section 4 – A Parliamentary Secretary shall be of the rank and status of a Minister of State and shall exercise such powers, discharge such functions and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Chief Minister by way of a notification published in the official Gazette.

Now this is apparently provides what Article 164(1A) expressly prohibits. So is it valid?

Creation of Political Executive

Another argument is that the Political Executive (both national and state level) is the creation of the Constitution itself. Articles 74(1) 6, 75(1)7, 163(1)8 and 164(1)9 of the Constitution create the offices of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and other Ministers respectively. The framers of the Constitution were aware of the different offices in vogue (such as Parliamentary Secretaries, Deputy Ministers etc) in various parliamentary democracies but chose to make provisions for only the office of ‘Minister’. Continue reading “Validity of Appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in India”

Appeal from Caeser to Caeser’s wife.

Existence of alternate remedy.

Invocation of writ remedy under article 226 pre-supposes that there is no alternate remedy?

There is no rule, with regard to certiorari as there is with mandamus, that it will lie only where there is no other equally effective remedy. It should be made specifically clear that where the order complained against is alleged to be illegal or invalid as being contrary to law, a petition at the in stance of person adversely affected by it, would lie to the High Court under Art. 226 and such a petition cannot be rejected on the ground that an appeal lies to the higher officer or the State Government. An appeal in all cases cannot be said to provide in all situations an alternative effective remedy keeping aside the nice distinction between jurisdiction and merits.

Look at the fact situation in this case. Power was exercised formally by the authority set up under the Rules to grant contract but effectively and for all practical purposes by the Chief Minister of the State. To whom do you appeal in a State administration against the decision of the Chief Minister ? The clutch of appeal from Caesar to Caesar wife can only be bettered by appeal from one’s own order to oneself. Therefore this is a case in which the High Court was not at all justified in throwing out the petition on the untenable ground that the appellant had an effective alternative remedy. The High Court did not pose to itself the question, who would grant relief when the impugned order is passed at the instance of the Chief Minister of the State. To whom did the High Court want the appeal to be filed over the decision of the Chief Minister. There was no answer and that by itself without anything more would be sufficient to set aside the judgment of the High Court.

[Source: Ram And Shyam Company vs State Of Haryana, AIR 1985 SC 1147, 1985 SCR Supl. (1) 541]

Legal doctrine of Occupied Field

Doctrine of Occupied Field is attracted in a variety of ways. For example if a special law covers a subject, general law stands automatically excluded because that field of law is already occupied.

Claim of Gratuity made  under Section 33-C(2) Industrial Disputes Act instead of Payment of Gratuity Act — Validity.

It was urged that the Payment of Gratuity Act is a self-contained code incorporating all the essential provisions relating to payment of gratuity which can be claimed under that Act, and its provisions impliedly exclude recourse to any other statute for that purpose.

Supreme Court accepted this contention in following words:

“A careful perusal of the relevant provisions of the Payment of Gratuity Act shows that Parliament has enacted a closely knit scheme providing for payment of gratuity. A controlling authority is appointed by the appropriate Government under section 3 and Parliament has made him responsible for the administration of the entire Act. In what event gratuity will become payable and how it will be quantified are detailed in section 4. Section 7(1) entitled a person eligible for payment of gratuity to apply in that behalf to the employer. Under section 72, the employer is obliged,as soon as gratuity becomes payable and whether an application has or has not been made for payment gratuity, to determine the amount of gratuity and inform the person to whom the gratuity is payable specifying the amount of gratuity so determined. He is obliged, by virtue of the same provision, to inform the controlling authority also, thus ensuring that the controlling authority is seized at all times of information in regard to gratuity as it becomes payable. If a dispute is raised in regard to the amount of gratuity payable or as to the admissibility of any claim to gratuity, or as to the person entitled to receive the gratuity, section 7(4) a requires the employer to deposit with the controlling authority such amount as he admits to be payable by him as gratuity. The controlling authority is empowered. under section 7(4)(b), to enter upon adjudication of the dispute, and after due inquiry, and after giving the parties to the dispute a reasonable opportunity of being heard, he is required to determine the amount of gratuity payable.

Continue reading “Legal doctrine of Occupied Field”

Right of speedy trial

No person shall be deprived of his life or his personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Life and liberty, the words employed in shaping Article 21, by the Founding Fathers of the Constitution, are not to be read narrowly in the sense drearily dictated by dictionaries; they are organic terms to be construed meaningfully. Embarking upon the interpretation thereof, feeling the heart-throb of the Preamble, deriving strength from the Directive Principles of State Policy and alive to their constitutional obligation, the Courts have allowed Article 21 to stretch its arms as wide as it legitimately can. The mental agony, expense and strain which a person proceeded against in criminal law has to undergo and which, coupled with delay, may result in impairing the capability or ability of the accused to defend himself have persuaded the constitutional courts of the country in holding the right to speedy trial a manifestation of fair, just and reasonable procedure enshrined in Article 21. Speedy trial, again, would encompass within its sweep all its stages including investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal, revision and re-trial in short everything commencing with an accusation and expiring with the final verdict the two being respectively the terminus a quo and terminus ad quem of the journey which an accused must necessarily undertake once faced with an implication.

Is it at all necessary to have limitation bars terminating trials and proceedings?

Is there no effective mechanisms available for achieving the same end? The Criminal Procedure Code, as it stands, incorporates a few provisions to which resort can be had for protecting the interest of the accused and saving him from unreasonable prolixity or laxity at the trial amounting to oppression. Continue reading “Right of speedy trial”

Moot and academic question can also be considered by Court: Philippines Supreme Court.

The “moot and academic” principle is not a magical formula that automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case.

[Province of North Cotabato v. Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain (GRP), G.R. No. 183591, October 14, 2008, 568 SCRA 402, 460.]

The Court may still take cognizance of an otherwise moot and academic case, if it finds that

(a) there is a grave violation of the Constitution;
(b) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved;
(c) the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and
(d) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

Continue reading “Moot and academic question can also be considered by Court: Philippines Supreme Court.”

Right of privacy about internet usage.

Disclosure of online identity if breach of right of privacy:

Right of privacy is statutorily recognised in Canada. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, 2000 bars disclosure of personal information except in cases excepted under section 7(3) of said Act.

Breach of right of privacy:

The police identified the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a computer that someone had been using to access and store child pornography through an Internet file-sharing program. They then obtained from the Internet Service Provider (ISP), without prior judicial authorization, the subscriber information associated with that IP address. This led them to the appellant, Mr. Spencer. He had downloaded child pornography into a folder that was accessible to other Internet users using the same file-sharing program. He was charged and convicted at trial of possession of child pornography and acquitted on a charge of making it available.

Continue reading “Right of privacy about internet usage.”

Right to free Education under Constitution of India

Free education to all: A reneged constitutional objective of India!

Article 45 of Constitution of India providing objective of free education to all:

Article 45 of the Constitution of India as originally enacted had a promise to provide free education to all children until they reach the age of 14 years. This objective remain unfulfilled with no steps taken to achieve this objective which was in the nature of a directive principle to the governance of State. In 2002 this directive was modified and the obligation was changed to provide free education to children upto the age of six years. Thus the executive fainaiguer was constitutionally accepted.

Recent amendments in Constitution of India to provide free education:

Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 reduced the age of children entited to free education to six years and inserted an article 21-A in the Constitution with the following objective:

“The Constitution of India in a Directive Principle contained in article 45, has ‘made a provision for free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of fourteen years within ten years of promulgation of the Constitution. We could not achieve this goal even after 50 years of adoption of this provision. The task of providing education to all children in this age group gained momentum after the National Policy of Education (NPE) was announced in 1986. The Government of India, in partnership with the State Governments, has made strenuous efforts to fulfil this mandate and, though significant improvements were seen in various educational indicators, the ultimate goal of providing universal and quality education still remains unfulfilled. In order to fulfil this goal, it is felt that an explicit provision should be made in the Part relating to Fundamental Rights of the Constitution.

Article 21A of the Constitution of India:

“21A. Right to education.: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”

Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act, 2005 (with effect from 20.01.2006) was enacted to provide following object:

“Greater access to higher education including professional education to a larger number of students belonging to the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been a matter of major concern. At present, the number of seats available in aided or State maintained institutions, particularly in respect of professional education, is limited in comparison to those in private unaided institutions.”

This Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act inserted clause (5) of Article 15 in the Constitution of India:

“Nothing in this article or in sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 shall prevent the State from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30.

Challenge to provision for free education to backward classes:

The Clause (5) in Article 15 of the Constitution, vested a power on the State, independent of and different from, the regulatory power under clause (6) of Article 19, and question raised was whether this new power vested in the State which enables the State to force the charitable element on a private educational institution destroys the right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. Thus Supreme Court of India was called upon to decide the following two substantial questions of law:

    1. Whether by inserting clause (5) in Article 15 of the Constitution by the Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act, 2005, Parliament has altered the basic structure or framework of the Constitution of India
    2. Whether by inserting Article 21A of the Constitution by the Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, Parliament has altered the basic structure or framework of the Constitution India.

Reasoning of Supreme Court while upholding the above Constitutional Amendments:

In India by Constitution (Eighty- Sixth Amendment) Act, a new power was made available to the State under Article 21A of the Constitution to make a law determining the manner in which it will provide free and compulsory education to the children of the age of six to fourteen years as this goal contemplated in the Directive Principles in Article 45 before this constitutional amendment could not be achieved for fifty years. This additional power vested by the Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 in the State is independent and different from the power of the State under clause (6) of Article 19 of the Constitution and has affected the voluntariness of the right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. By exercising this additional power, the State can by law impose admissions on private unaided schools and so long as the law made by the State in exercise of this power under Article 21A of the Constitution is for the purpose of providing free and compulsory education to the children of the age of 6 to 14 years and so long as such law forces admission of children of poorer, weaker and backward sections of the society to a small percentage of the seats in private educational institutions to achieve the constitutional goals of equality of opportunity and social justice set out in the Preamble of the Constitution, such a law would not be destructive of the right of the private unaided educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Under Section 12(1)(c) read with Section 2(n)(iv) of the Act, an unaided school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority is required to admit in class I, to the extent of at least twenty-five per cent of the strength of that class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion. We further find that under Section 12(2) of the 2009 Act such a school shall be reimbursed expenditure so incurred by it to the extent of per- child-expenditure incurred by the State, or the actual amount charged from the child, whichever is less, in such manner as may be prescribed. Thus, ultimately it is the State which is funding the expenses of free and compulsory education of the children belonging to weaker sections and several groups in the neighbourhood, which are admitted to a private unaided school. These provisions of the 2009 Act, in our view, are for the purpose of providing free and compulsory education to children between the age group of 6 to 14 years and are consistent with the right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution

The width and amplitude test:

A plain reading of clause (5) of Article 15 would show that the power of a State to make a law can only be exercised where it is necessary for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and not for any other purpose. Thus, if a law is made by the State only to appease a class of citizen which is not socially or educationally backward or which is not a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, such a law will be beyond the powers of the State under clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution. A plain reading of clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution will further show that such law has to be limited to making a special provision relating to admission to private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided, by the State. Hence, if the State makes a law which is not related to admission in educational institutions and relates to some other aspects affecting the autonomy and rights of private educational institutions as defined by this Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation, such a law would not be within the power of the State under clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution. In other words, power in clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution is a guided power to be exercised for the limited purposes stated in the clause and as and when a law is made by the State in purported exercise of the power under clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution, the Court will have to examine and find out whether it is for the purposes of advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and whether the law is confined to admission of such socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes to private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided, and if the Court finds that the power has not been exercised for the purposes mentioned in clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution, the Court will have to declare the law as ultra vires Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. In our opinion, therefore, the width of the power vested on the State under clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution by the constitutional amendment is not such as to destroy the right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

A law made under clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution by the State on the ground that it treats private aided educational institutions and private unaided educational institutions alike is not immune from a challenge under Article 14 of the Constitution. Clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution only states that nothing in Article 15 or Article 19(1)(g) will prevent the State to make a special provision, by law, for admission of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State. Clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution does not say that such a law will not comply with the other requirements of equality as provided in Article 14 of the Constitution.

Exclusion of minority institutions from obligation to provide free education:

Minority educational institutions, by themselves, are a separate class and their rights are protected under Article 30 of the Constitution, and, therefore, the exclusion of minority educational institutions from Article 15(5) is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. By excluding the minority institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30 of the Constitution, the secular character of India is maintained and not destroyed.

[Source: Pramati Educational & Cultural Trust v. Union of India, (Supreme Court of India)]

Religious establishment sponsorship prohibition in America's Constitution.

Supreme Court of USA takes U turn on religious establishment prohibition!

Prohibition on State sponsoring any religious establishment:

First Amendment which is also called Article 1 of Bill of Rights section of Constitution of USA,  provides as under:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In 1962 Board of Education, New York, acting in its official capacity under state law, directed the School District’s principal to cause the following prayer to be said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of each school day:

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”

History of America’s separation of State and Religion: 

Supreme Court of USA struck down this directive with the following observation about origin of establishment clause in USA Constitution:

It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America. The Book of Common Prayer, which was created under governmental direction and which was approved by Acts of Parliament in 1548 and 1549, [Footnote 5] set out in minute detail the accepted form and content of prayer and other religious ceremonies to be used in the established, tax supported Church of England. [Footnote 6] The controversies over the Book and what should be its content repeatedly threatened to disrupt the peace of that country as the accepted forms of prayer in the established church changed with the views of the particular ruler that happened to be in control at the time. [Footnote 7] Powerful groups representing some of the varying religious views of the people struggled among themselves to impress their particular views upon the Government and obtain amendments of the Book more suitable to their respective notions of how religious services should be conducted in order that the official religious establishment would advance their particular religious beliefs. [Footnote 8] Other groups, lacking the necessary political power to influence the Government on the matter, decided to leave England and its established church and seek freedom in America from England’s governmentally ordained and supported religion………..

By the time of the adoption of the Constitution, our history shows that there was a widespread awareness among many Americans of the dangers of a union of Church and State. These people knew, some of them from bitter personal experience, that one of the greatest dangers to the freedom of the individual to worship in his own way lay in the Government’s placing its official stamp of approval upon one particular kind of prayer or one particular form of religious services. They knew the anguish, hardship and bitter strife that could come when zealous religious groups struggled with one another to obtain the Government’s stamp of approval from each King, Queen, or Protector that came to temporary power. The Constitution was intended to avert a part of this danger by leaving the government of this country in the hands of the people, rather than in the hands of any monarch. But this safeguard was not enough. Our Founders were no more willing to let the content of their prayers and their privilege of praying whenever they pleased be influenced by the ballot box than they were to let these vital matters of personal conscience depend upon the succession of monarchs. The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say that the people’s religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office.  [Source Page 370 U. S. at 426-427, 430]

Striking down the directive for prayers as violative of establishment clause:

Under that Amendment’s prohibition against governmental establishment of religion, as reinforced by the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, government in this country, be it state or federal, is without power to prescribe by law any particular form of prayer which is to be used as an official prayer in carrying on any program of governmentally sponsored religious activity. 

Dissenting judgement in Engel v. Vitale:

It may be seen that Justice Douglas and Justice Stewart delivered dissenting opinion in aforesaid case. For sake of brevity only few lines are extracted, in which reference has been made to ‘traditions’ without any attempt to explain the history which is quoted above:

I can not say that to authorize this prayer is to establish a religion in the strictly historic meaning………. …… We are religious people whose institutions pre-suppose a Supreme Being…………..The First Amendment leaves the Government in a position not of hostility to religion but of neutrality.

….Since the days of John Marshall our Crier has said, “God save the United States and the House of Honourable Court.” Both Senate and House of Representatives open their daily Sessions with prayer….

Turn around on establishment clause in  Marsh v. Chambers – 463 U.S. 783 (1983):

Nebraska Legislature had  tradition of holding prayer, similar to the traditions mentioned in the aforesaid dissenting opinions in Engle v. Vitale but with the exceptions that these prayers were conduction by local Chaplain who was also paid from public funds to the service. There can not be better example of State sponsoring a particular religion in preference to other religions but Supreme Court decided to look at the other way, with these observations:

The opening of sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom. In the very courtrooms in which the United States District Judge and later three Circuit Judges heard and decided this case, the proceedings opened with an announcement that concluded, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” The same invocation occurs at all sessions of this Court.

The Court did not refer to Engle v. Vitale in this case instead the reliance was made on Abington School District v. Schempp which was a case where teaching of bible was carried out with the consent of majority. Again in this case no reference was made to historical reasons extracted first above. There is no reference to the fact that Constitutional interpretation is not an interpretation of majority but is to protect the minority. The trend however continued this year in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway.

 

Preference to christian clergy in 1999 not hit by establishment clause:

Greece, a town with a population of 94,000, is in upstate New York. For some years, it began its monthly town board meetings with a moment of silence. In 1999, the newly elected town supervisor, John Auberger, decided to replicate the prayer practice he had found meaningful while serving in the county legislature. Following the roll call and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, Auberger would invite a local clergyman to the front of the room to deliver an invocation. After the prayer, Auberger would thank the minister for serving as the board’s “chaplain for the month” and present him with a commemorative plaque. The prayer was intended to place town board members in a solemn and deliberative frame of mind, invoke divine guidance in town affairs, and follow a tradition practiced by Congress and dozens of state legislatures.

While the prayer program may be open to all creeds, nearly all local congregations are Christian. Citizens alleged violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by preferring Christians over other prayer givers and by sponsoring sectarian prayers and sought to limit the town to “inclusive and ecumenical” prayers that referred only to a “generic God.” 

Now the Supreme Court has expanded the interpretation of religious establishment clause:

Yet Marsh must not be understood as permitting a practice that would amount to a constitutional violation if not for its historical foundation. The case teaches instead that the Establishment Clause must be interpreted “by reference to historical practices and understandings.” County of Allegheny, 492 U. S., at 670 (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). That the First Congress provided for the appointment of chaplains only days after approving language for the First Amendment demonstrates that the Framers considered legislative prayer a benign acknowledgment of religion’s role in society. D. Currie, The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period 1789–1801, pp. 12–13 (1997). In the 1850’s, the judiciary committees in both the House and Senate reevaluated the practice of official chaplaincies after receiving petitions to abolish the office. The committees concluded that the office posed no threat of an establishment because lawmakers were not compelled to attend the daily prayer, S. Rep. No. 376, 32d Cong., 2d Sess., 2 (1853); no faith was excluded by law, nor any favored, id., at 3; and the cost of the chaplain’s salary imposed a vanishingly small burden on taxpayers, H. Rep. No. 124, 33d Cong., 1st Sess., 6 (1854). Marsh stands for the proposition that it is not necessary to define the precise boundary of the Establishment Clause where history shows that the specific practice is permitted. Any test the Court adopts must acknowledge a practice that was accepted by the Framers and has withstood the critical scrutiny of time and political change. County of Allegheny, supra, at 670 (opinion of Kennedy, J.); see also School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U. S. 203, 294 (1963) (Brennan, J., concurring) (“[T]he line we must draw between the permissible and the impermissible is one which accords with history and faithfully reflects the understanding of the Founding Fathers”). A test that would sweep away what has so long been settled would create new controversy and begin anew the very divisions along religious lines that the Establishment Clause seeks to prevent. See Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U. S. 677 –704 (2005) (Breyer, J., concurring in judgment). [Source: Town of Greece v. Galloway, (Supreme Court of USA)]

The reason that this judgement is criticised as a repeal of First Amendment is that it completely ignores the history which led to founding of America and incorporation of First Amendment. Instead the judges have preferred their personal version of separation of State and Religion. In fact they had no courage to address the following rationale of Madison, the author of First Amendment:

To those who may subscribe to the view that, because the Regents’ official prayer is so brief and general there can be no danger to religious freedom in its governmental establishment, however, it may be appropriate to say in the words of James Madison, the author of the First Amendment:

“[I]t is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. . . . Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? [Source: 370 U. S. at 436]

The judgement of US Supreme Court on establishment clause about secularism would however be carol for the ears of BJP and it’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Mr. Nrendra Modi as their interpretation of secularism is exactly the same as of US Supreme Court Today.