We citizens and residents of Delhi are alarmed to hear of the official decision by Government of Delhi as announced by its Minister of Tourism to hold a large scale religious ceremony in the form of Saraswati Puja on February 13, 2016 at the Central Park in the heart of Delhi. We believe that while state institutions concerned with public safety must do their duty at religious events, the state’s responsibility must end there. The government must not use public funds to sponsor religious events.
This decision by the Government of Delhi violates the spirit of the Directive Principles of state policy enshrined in the Constitution and sets an unacceptable administrative and legal precedent, because it will open doors open for misuse of public money. Citizens who are religious believers are free to hold any religious ritual at their will and expense. They can also seek state intervention if their freedom of religion is constrained in any way. But as regards sponsorhip, the state machinery should stay neutral.
We wish to make clear that our position on this is not directed at any particular form of belief and would be the same for all religions.
We ask the Government of Delhi to desist from sponsoring the announced Saraswati Puja, and leave it to citizen’s bodies to perform pujas.
We call upon citizens to legally challenge these plans and demand that government return the funds spent on preparations for the event to the public exchequer.
We also request the artists scheduled perform at the upcoming Puja to avoid supporting this event until it is made clear that it is a private and not state-sponsored function.
N D Pancholi