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Introduction of Vedic astrology courses in varsities upheld

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MAY 5. The Supreme Court today dismissed a special leave petition (SLP) filed by a scientist and two others challenging the University Grants Commission's move to introduce `Vedic astrology' (jyotir vigyan) courses in the Indian universities.

A Bench, comprising Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice G.P. Mathur, rejected the SLP which was directed against the April 2001 judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court declining to entertain a writ petition.

The petitioners, P.M. Bhargava, scientist, K. Subash Chandra Reddy and Chandana Chakrabarti, had in their writ petition questioned the decision of the UGC in according permission to the universities for starting graduate, post-graduate and research courses in jyotir vigyan.

They had contended that the guidelines issued by the UGC were totally irrational, as Vedic astrology could not be held to see the unforeseen.

They submitted that as a pseudoscience, astrology was considered to be diametrically opposed to the findings and theories of modern Western science.

The High Court dismissed the petition holding that it could not interfere in the policy decision of the Government unless it was found to be contrary to the law or made on extraneous considerations.

In their SLP, the petitioners contended that the scientific community considered the action of the respondents in starting the Vedic astrology course as a giant leap backwards, undermining whatever scientific credibility the country had so far achieved. They sought a direction to set aside the judgment and a direction to restrain the UGC and other respondents from implementing the decision to start the astrology course in Indian universities.

On behalf of the Union Government it was submitted that there was no compulsion in taking up the astrology course, which would be only an optional subject. Even in several Western countries, astrology had been included as a subject of study.

The apprehensions of the petitioners were misplaced, the Government said seeking dismissal of the appeal.

The Supreme Court Bench agreed with the Centre's contention and dismissed the SLP.

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