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Oath in Allah’s name no infraction: court

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the constitutional validity of the oaths taken by 11 Muslim MLAs of Kerala in the name of Allah in 2006.

“Swearing-in in the name of Allah will not amount to infraction of the Constitution,” a Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran said, dismissing a special leave petition (SLP) against a Kerala High Court judgment.

“If somebody is unable to read English, the oath is translated in the language he/she understands. Then will it be an infraction of the Constitution,” asked the Chief Justice. “Allah is an Arabic word for God, so what is the problem?”

Article 188 provides for taking oath and Schedule III of the Constitution prescribes for the manner of doing it. A member can take oath saying, “I swear in the name of God” or “I solemnly affirm.” The SLP raised the question whether a member could take oath in the name of Allah. In his writ petition, the State vice-president of the Bharatheeya Janatha Yuva Morcha challenged the action of P.K. Abdu Rabb and 10 other MLAs taking oath in the name of Allah, instead of in the name of god. The High Court, which dismissed the petition in its July 21, 2006 judgment, said: “When a person belonging to the Muslim community takes oath in the name of Allah, he/she is not violating any constitutional provision. The Constitution permits [members] to take oath in the name of God. Muslims who believe in Allah have therefore to take oath in the name of the god in whom they believe.”

In his SLP, the petitioner said even though the issue merited serious consideration, it received scant attention from authorities. Oath-taking in the name of Allah was unconstitutional and therefore the 11 MLAs were not entitled to participate in the House or get salary and allowances.

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