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Report sought on plea to ban coins with Vaishno Devi image

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the centre to file a status report on a plea seeking withdrawal of Rs.5 denomination coins with the image of deity Mata Vaishno Devi embossed on the reverse.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice BD Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul asked the ministry of finance to file a report within three weeks on the question of the government issuing coins with religious symbol embossed on them.

The PIL was filed by Nafis Qazi against the finance ministry and RBI and the court was told that secular democratic credentials of governance are damaged when the government issues currency with religious symbols.
It said the government, by bringing out coins at regular intervals with religious symbols such as figures of a deity or temple embossed on them, was indulging in anti-secular actions.

“These symbols undermine the secular character, a basic feature of the constitution,” said the advocate appearing for petitioner.

During the hearing, the bench questioned the government on issuing such coins, saying: “How can you do this? How can a state have a religious symbol? State should be completely blind to religion.”

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeev Mehra, along with advocate Neeraj Chaudhary, appearing for the central government told the bench that the coins were issued under the Coinage Act to commemorate the occasion of silver jubilee of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

Mehra said several other coins were issued under the Coinage Act and he will look into the matter and file the report.

The court, however, said there is no need to issue coins to commemorate any occasions. “You need not put symbol like 100 years of something, 50 years of something,” said the court while posting the matter for April 23.

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