|No jurisdiction over other countries|
Petitioner may go to International Court of Justice or European Court
SPL against High Court order dismissed
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to interfere with a French law banning conspicuous religious symbols in schools including wearing of turbans by Sikhs, stating it had no jurisdiction outside India.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and M.K. Sharma dismissed a special leave petition filed by the Singh Legal Foundation against a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court rejecting the petition.
When the petitioner’s counsel said the Sikhs’ fundamental rights were affected by the French law, the Chief Justice pointed out: “You have fundamental rights within this country and not abroad. You want us to protect your rights in a foreign country. We don’t have jurisdiction over other countries. You may go to the International Court of Justice or the European Court.”
Justice Sharma told counsel: “The Government of India has already taken up this issue with the French government. We understand your difficulty, but we can’t interfere.”
The petitioner said it was the legal duty of the Government of India to defend the fundamental rights of citizens in India and abroad. The French government being a signatory to the United Nations Covenants was duty bound to protect human rights and human dignity but the law amounted to discrimination and violation of human rights.
In its response filed before the High Court, the Centre said it took up the issue with French authorities, who explained that the law applied to every group or religion living in that country and was not aimed at a particular community.
They also said the law was intended to promote secular integration and not secular discrimination.
Assailing the High Court order, the petitioner said the Government of India had not taken effective steps to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of this country.
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