The Bombay High Court, on 6 January, dismissed a PIL seeking a direction to Union Law Ministry and other authorities to include an option of taking oath on the Constitution of India in the Oaths Act for atheists.
As per the provisions of the Oaths Act-1969, a person can either swear in the name of God or solemnly affirm to state the truth while either deposing in a court or filing an affidavit or any other application before a court.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was on 6 January hearing the public interest litigation filed by local resident Sunil Mane, seeking for a third option in the Act, by which a person can take oath on the Constitution of India.
The bench noted that it is for the lawmakers to decide if oath can be permitted to be taken on the Constitution of India, and such a direction cannot be given by the court.
Mane, in his petition, claimed that he came across two separate incidents in lower courts where the witnesses refused to take oath in the name of God or by placing their hand on Bhagvad Gita as they were non-believers. The courts refused to let them depose and asked the witnesses to leave.
Hence, Mane sought for a provision to be introduced in the Act by which oath can be taken on the Constitution.
The high court on 6 January, however, noted that the Act provides two options for oath - one in the name of God and the other is to solemnly affirm.
"The two options clearly indicate that if a person is a believer in God or Almighty then he or she can take oath in the name of God and if they are not believers then they can solemnly affirm to state the truth. By saying God or Almighty, the Act has ensured that there is no reference or attachment to any religion, caste or creed," Chief Justice Chellur said.