Religion cannot be thrust upon a child: Bombay HC


Observing that religion cannot be thrust upon a child, the Bombay High Court has rejected a plea to hand over the custody of a three-year-old girl, born to a Christian father and Hindu mother, to her paternal family who wanted to raise her as a Roman Catholic.

The matter pertained to a minor girl whose father had fatally stabbed his wife and was behind bars. The father, his sister and the girl’s maternal grandfather had filed guardianship petitions seeking custody of the child.

The girl’s father and aunt submitted that they wanted the child to be raised as a Roman Catholic. They said Catholic rituals must be performed and she must attend a convent school where the ideals of Christianity would be taught.

Justice Roshan Dalvi observed, “It would be insulting to Christianity to see the father of the child, who is a Christian, being convicted of murder of his wife. The child would not get the ideals of Christianity from a father who has been imprisoned during her minority having been charged with murder of her mother and cruelty towards her.”

The judge also dismissed the argument that a man’s religion must prevail upon his child, saying it was directly contrary to the freedom of religion under the Constitution and it would also be gender discriminatory.

The court decided to give the custody of the child to her maternal grandfather, taking into consideration the fact that the girl, after her mother’s death, was living with her maternal grandparents.

The judge observed, “There is no greater religion among the great religions. What is to be understood in consideration of religion of the minor is that a minor who has been brought up on the tenets of any of the great religions be not disturbed by thrusting upon the minor the tenets or traditions of another religion which would cause stress and trauma upon the minor during the delicate years of his or her growth.”

Written By: PTI
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  1. “It
    would be in the interest of the child if she is kept away from any
    religious dogma to which she has not been exposed in her infancy so as
    to leave her childhood care free and stress-free,” the judge further

    So it is okay for the child to be oppressed by the religious dogma that she has been exposed to in her infancy?

    I wonder what the judgement would have been if the religion of the parents were swapped. Hindus are the majority in India at about 80% and in particular Mumbai (Bombay) is very right leaning in politics.

  2. I agree. If it were vice versa, I think it would be quite likely that they would’ve ruled in favour of the Hindu family. I don’t know enough about it to know whether this will set an even handed precedent but I hope so.

  3. Wow, look at that. A clear cut ruling from the HC. For once some positive news relating to religion from India.

  4. Why is it that the poor, the uneducated and the desperate
    succumb to religions more passionately???

    Can anyone explain this in a Darwinian context??

  5. I would first explain that fear is an evolutionary adaptation that helps us survive. Then say that the basic fears are, death, bodily harm, humiliation, and loss of autonomy. Fear in itself is a big topic so I hope for now that these that I’ve mentioned will suffice for my point.

    Having wealth and education reduces the causes of these fears, and helps to understand them. Religion, by distorting our view of reality, actually increases fear – but then gives comfort. The desperate circumstances of many poor people lead them to seek comfort, the lack of education prevents them from seeing the fallacy in seeking it from religion.

    If you like, it is comparable to taking medicine to help with the symptoms of an illness, while the medicine makes the root cause of the illness itself worse. Once you’ve entered the trap through poverty it’s hard to escape. If you stop taking the medicine (become an atheist) the symptoms will get worse, but in time the illness will get better.

    There doesn’t seem to be any direct Darwinian explanation for religion specifically, instead it is an ‘unintended’ side-effect of fear – which is Darwinian.You could say that religion helps survival by providing a strong sense of group identity, allowing large numbers of people to unite in wars (again in fearful situations), those not having a coherent ‘war machine’ would be killed off. Patriotism can provide this as well as religion and Jung has lots to say about state vs religion. Consider Russian, China, US, Europe, and the Middle-East. In some cases religion is a threat to state authority, in others religion is used by the state, and again in others state and religion are united. Again educated people, with the power that wealth brings, are less likely to be manipulated by religion, and are more likely to be using religion as a method of control themselves. 

  6. Good ruling.  As for the brazen arrogance of the father, I’m speechless:  I murdered your mother, now I demand you should be raised according to my religion, not hers. 

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