Faith is an integral part of human life in India, as people from different religious groups co-exist and propagate their beliefs peacefully. But sometimes those who claim to represent god, are unfortunately caught indulging in illegal practices supposedly in the name of god.

In India most institutions stay away from touching religious matters, as the reactions can be highly unpredictable, but time and again the judiciary and legislature are faced with difficult decisions. In the present case, a Jain monk had asked for eight months to appear in a court in Ahmedabad following a summons, because he will walk from Kolkata to Ahmedabad.

The 60-year-old, who is accused of forging government documents to prove that induction of children as monks in monasteries is legal, said that he cannot cover the distance by any other means since he has renounced the world. The monk Acharya Kirti Yashurishwarji Maharaj also stated that he can only walk 12 km a day due to his spinal injury.

The case has been lodged by Ahmedabad based activist Jasmin Shah who accused the monk of misleading the Jain community. Under Bal Diksha , children as young as eight are inducted as monks from the Jain community, predominantly from among the Jains in Gujarat.

The case comes as another instance of the state facing a challenge in religious matters, after the Supreme Court stayed a decision terming Santhara , or a Jain fast unto death, as illegal. Earlier, Muslim women called for a ban on the three talaq divorce system in Islam , and the beef ban as well as meat ban brought criticism for catering to religious beliefs over civil rights.

While the court rejected the Jain monk’s request in this case, hopefully many such decisions that follow, will bring about significant change.