By Rhea Mogul

A court in India’s most populous state has effectively banned Islamic schools by striking down a law governing madrasas, weeks before a nationwide election that could further polarize the world’s largest democracy along religious lines.

The Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh on Friday declared the Madrasa Act of 2004 to be unconstitutional, according to a court order seen by CNN, while ordering the state government to move students enrolled in the Islamic system into mainstream schools.

“We hold that the Madarsa (sic) Act, 2004, is violative of the principle of Secularism, which is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India,” the high court said in its order.

“Since providing education is one of the primary duties of the State, it is bound to remain secular while exercising its powers in the said field. It cannot provide for education of a particular religion, its instructions, prescriptions and philosophies or create separate education systems for separate religions.”

Madrasas provide a system of education in which students are taught about the Quran and Islamic history alongside general subjects like math and science.

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