Prafull Goradia vs. Union of India (2011) 2 SCC 568

Journal of Indian Law and Society

Prafull Goradia, a former Member of Parliament, resigned from the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004 alleging that it was guilty of ‘abandoning Hindutva’. He was until then a significant ideologue of the party who edited the party journal ‘BJP Today’ and authored several self-published books titled The Saffron Book, Hindu Masjids, and Unfinished Agenda. His most recent book complains against a wide range of public figures including Gandhi, Nehru and M.F. Hussain who are characterized as ‘Anti Hindus‘. In 2007, Goradia converted a pet ideological complaint of the Hindu Right about the injustice of the Haj subsidy into a legal and constitutional argument by filing a Writ Petition under Article 32 in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Haj Committees Act, 2002 (the ‘Act’). He sought to demonstrate that the provisions of the Act allowed the Central and the State Governments to give grants to the Haj Committees to subsidise air travel for Haj pilgrims. As taxpayers’ money subsidised a specific religious pilgrimage he claimed that this violated his fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15 and 27. The court dismissed the petition on the grounds that: first, there was no discrimination on the basis of religion as the state subsidized pilgrimages of other religions; and secondly that as only a small portion of the taxes levied were used for the purposes of this subsidy, it would not violate Article 27. In this brief case note, we focus on three key issues: the existence of discrimination on the basis of religion; the constitutional validity of using the general revenues of the state to support religious activity and finally, the method of constitutional interpretation adopted by the court in this case. We will address these issues in turn.

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Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Manavi Belguamkar, Prafull Goradia vs. Union of India (2011) 2 SCC 568 (Journal of Indian Law and Society, 31st December 2012)