Constitution does not permit coins with religious symbols: HC

SansadTV Bureau

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre’s step to commemorate religious events by issuing coins having pictures of deities embossed on them observing that “our Constitution does not permit this”.

“As a state you cannot go into religious issues. Put a stop to such practice. By issuing a coin, you are celebrating a particular religion,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.

The observations came while perusing an affidavit submitted by Ministry of Finance. The court had sought replies of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain on the issue on the last date of hearing.

During the hearing, the ASG said the Centre had powers under the Coins Act to issue coins to commemorate a particular historical or religious event.

“It is submitted that the design of coins is the responsibility of the central government under Section 4 of the Coinage Act, 2011. It is further submitted that the design of bank notes is governed by the provisions of section 25 of the RBI Act, 1934 which provides that the design, form and material of bank notes shall be such as may be approved by the central government after consideration…

“The government of India has issued the commemorative coins in due compliance of constitutional, statutory and legal provisions laid down for the purpose,” the affidavit said.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Delhi residents Nafis Qazi and Abu Sayeed, through lawyer A Rasheed Qureshi, seeking withdrawal of coins having religious symbols embossed on them.

“In the recent past also, the government of India has issued commemorative coins to mark landmark events such as 300th anniversary of Gurta-Gaddi of Shri Guru Granth Sahibji in 2008, 1000 years of Barihadeeswara Temple in 2010, birth centenary of Mother Teresa in 2010, birth centenary of Saint Alphonsa in 2009 and Bhagwan Mahavir in 2002…

“The commemorative coins have been issued under relevant provisions of the Coinage Act, 2011. As such, the issuance of such coins by the respondents is not in violation of any constitutional, statutory and contractual right of the petitioners,” the affidavit said.

The petition has sought a direction to the RBI and the Finance Ministry to withdraw the coins brought out in 2010 and 2013 with religious symbols on them.