According to the Constitution of India, every citizen has the right and freedom to practice, preach, and spread the religion of their/her/his choice. Every believer can propagate their/her/his religion without the fear or intervention of the government. However, the Constitution also states that nobody has the right to spread religion by inflicting pain and inducing fear in society. This liberty to practice and propagate religion without government intervention and societal fear is termed the Right to Freedom of Religion.
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This Blog Includes:
- Constitutional Provisions on the Right to Freedom of Religion
- Important Judgements on Freedom of Religion
Constitutional Provisions on the Right to Freedom of Religion
To grant this liberty to follow or not to follow a religion of choice, the Constituent Assembly included this right under Article 25 to Article 28. Under the worthy guidance of Dr. BR Ambedkar, the assembly decided that the Right to Freedom of Religion should be a Fundamental Right in India as the nation is home to several religions. With consent, the following articles were embedded in the Constitution of India:
Article 25: Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice and Propagation of Religion
According to this Fundamental Right, every individual is equally entitled to the freedom of their beliefs and the ability to practice and share their religion. However, there are limitations to this right in order to maintain public order, morality, and peace. This provision will not interfere with existing laws or the government’s ability to create new laws. In addition, Article 15 will not hinder financial, economic, political, or non-religious activities related to religious practices. Nevertheless, government-operated institutions cannot promote any specific religion through education. Furthermore, the right to proselytize doesn’t include the right to forcibly convert others, as that would infringe upon their freedom of belief.
Article 26: Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs
As per the Constitution of India, the freedom to administer religious matters encompasses the ability to establish and manage charitable institutions. This includes overseeing religious affairs or managing property, both movable and immovable, without violating the law. However, only organized entities like religious groups have the privilege to exercise this right. The government can oversee the non-religious activities of these associations. This right doesn’t extend to individuals. Religious bodies have the authority to establish and govern educational and charitable institutions independently unless there’s a threat to public order.
Article 27: Freedom from Taxation for Promotion of a Religion
In line with this provision of the Right to Freedom of Religion under the Indian constitution, individuals cannot be compelled to pay taxes that are specifically allocated for promoting or safeguarding a specific religion or religious group.
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Article 28: Freedom from Attending Religious Instruction
As per this fundamental right, educational institutions funded entirely by the State are prohibited from providing religious instruction. Similarly, individuals enrolled in educational institutions recognised by the State or receiving State aid cannot be compelled to participate in religious teachings or worship conducted within those institutions or their premises. For minors, the consent of their guardian is necessary for such participation. In essence, Article 28 prevents religious instruction in State-funded and State-aided educational institutions.
Important Judgements on Freedom of Religion
Here are the key judicial landmarks that upheld the Right to Freedom of Religion in India:
- Acharya Jagdishwaranand vs. Commissioner of Police, Calcutta
- Bijoe Emmanuel and Ors. vs. State of Kerala
- Ramji Lal Modi vs. State of UP
- M. Ismail Faruqui vs. Union of India
- Raja Birakishore vs. State of Orissa
- The Durgah Committee Ajmer vs. Syed Hussain Ali and Others
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