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India: Courts continue to peddle obscurantism by recognising astrology as science

Law suit challenging astrology as science dismissed in Bombay

3 February 2011

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The Times of India

Astrology is a science: Bombay HC

MUMBAI: Astrology has been debunked by most world scientists including India’s renowned physicist Prof. Yash Pal. However, it is "science" in India.

The Bombay High Court reaffirmed this on Thursday when it dismissed a PIL that had challenged astrology as science.

The PIL was filed by an NGO, Janhit Manch that had sought action against ’fake’ astrologers, tantriks, practitioners of Vastu shastra etc.

"So far as prayer related to astrology is concerned, the Supreme Court has already considered the issue and ruled that astrology is science. The court had in 2004 also directed the universities to consider if astrology science can be added to the syllabus. The decision of the apex court is binding on this court," observed the judges.

The judges also took on record an affidavit submitted by the Union government. The Centre had in its affidavit stated that astrology is 4000 years old ’trusted science’ and the same does not fall under the preview of The Drugs and Megical Remedies Act (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.

"The said Act does not cover astrology and related sciences. Astrology is a trusted science and is being practiced for over 4000 years," said an affidavit filed by Dr R Ramakrishna, deputy drug controller (India), west zone.

"The said Act is aimed at prohibiting misleading advertisements relating to drugs and magic remedies. The Act does not cover and / or relate to astrology and / or allied sciences like Palmistry, Vaastu Shastra etc. In view thereof, a purported ban on practices promoting astrology and related sciences sought by the petitioner, which is a time tested science more than 4000 years old is totally misconceived and unjustifiable," says the affidavit.

The (PIL) filed by Janhit Manch and its convener Bhagwanji Raiyani, along with his associate Dattaram Kumkar, had questioned the validity of predictions by many well-known astrologers.

The PIL, which ran into more than 100 pages pointed to several cases, including that of Indira Gandhi and Charan Singh becoming prime ministers, despite opposite predictions.

Representing the Union government, advocate Advait Sethna told the court that even the SC had accepted that astrology was a science and many universities had included it as a subject.

Advocate for Maharashtra government, Bharat Mehta too supported the stand taken by the Union government. Mehta submitted an affidavit filed by the food and drugs administration (FDA) department which said that necessary action is being taken against the guilty under the Drugs and Megical Remedies Act.

The PIL had urged the authorities to ban articles, advertisements, episodes and practices promoting astrology and its related subjects like vastu, reiki, feng shui, tarot, palmistry, zodiac signs and rashifal.

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Daily News and Analysis

Bombay high court dismisses plea seeking ban on ads by godmen

Published: Friday, Feb 4, 2011, 2:52 IST

By Mustafa Plumber | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Noting that the food and drug administration department is taking all necessary action against offenders under the Drug and Magic Remedies Act, the Bombay high court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a ban on advertisements by astrologers and magicians claiming cure for all kinds of ailments.

A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice S Vazifdar, while dismissing the plea, considered the affidavit filed by Dr R Ramakrishna of the FDA, which stated that “The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act is a comprehensive code which prohibits such advertisements and penal action is taken against the offenders.”

Petitioner Bhagwanji Rayani, appearing in person for the non-profit Janhit Maanch, argued that, “Astrology and other forms of magic done by these so-called babas, gurus and holy men is nothing but exploitation of the people”.

The petition further prayed that the state government should initiate a campaign against these godmen and come down heavily on the offenders.
However, appearing for the Union of India, advocate Advyait Jethna argued that, “Prosecution and fines have been stated in the act and action has been taken accordingly. Thus, this petition does not hold good.”Accepting the argument, the court dismissed the petition.