RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION
BY GRISHMA SHETTY AT LEXCLIQ
The concept of secularism is implicit in the preamble of the constitution which declares the resolve of the people to secure to all its citizens liberty to thought, belief, faith , and worship .secularism is neither anti –god nor pro-god , it treats alike the devout ,the antagonistic and the atheist. It eliminates god form the matters of the states and ensure that no one shall be discriminated against on the ground of religion. The state cannot have its own religion .The state must treat all religion equally .in the secular state, the state is only concerned with the relation between man and man.
Articles 25 to 28 deals with right to freedom of religion:
Article 25 -freedom of religion
(1)It guarantees to everyone the freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practice, and propagates religion.
(2)state empowered by law to regulate or restrict any economic ,financial , political or other secular activity which are associated with religion practice ; and provide for social welfare and reform , open hindu religious institutions of the public character to all classes and section of hindus .
National anthem case – Three school children were expelled from school after refusing to sing the Indian national anthem since it was against their religious faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses. A circular issued by the director of public instructions had made it compulsory for all children in schools to sing the national anthem .They had stood up respectfully when the national anthem was being sung every morning at their school but they did not join in the singing of it. The Supreme Court held that the action of the headmistress of expelling the children from school for not singing the national anthem was violative of their freedom of religion. The fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19(1)(a) and Article 25(1) has been infringed. It further held that there is no provision of law which compels or obligates anyone to sing the national anthem, it is also not disrespectful if a person respectfully stands but does not sing the national anthem.
Article 26 – Freedom to manage religious affairs
Subject to public order, morality, and health confers a right on every religious denomination or any section of such religious denomination of:
- Establishing and maintaining institutions for religious and charitable purposes
- Managing its affair with regard to religion
- Owing and acquiring property movable and immovable
- Administering the property in accordance with the law.
Bramchari Sidheshwar Bhai case – The Ram Krishna Mission wanted to declare itself as a non- Hindu minority where its members were to be treated as Hindus in the matter of marriage and inheritance but in the religious sense to be recognized as non-Hindus. This would certainly mean that they are given the status of legal Hindus but religious non- Hindus, similar to Sikhs and Buddhists. To this, the Supreme Court ruled that it cannot be claimed by the followers of Ram Krishna that they belong to the minority of the Ram Krishna Religion. Ram Krishna Religion is not distinct and separate from the Hindu religion. It is not a minority based upon religion. Hence, it cannot claim the fundamental right under Article 30 (1) to establish and administer institutions of education by Ram Krishna Mission.
Article 27 – freedom from taxes for promotion of any particular religion
Provides that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes which are meant for the payment of the costs incurred for the promotion or maintenance of any religion or religious denomination.
The Ratilal case - the Supreme Court was by and by engaging settle on the legal use of “religion” and ‘matters of religion’ as suggested morally justified to exercise of religion ensured under articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. The case emerged out of the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950, go to the Bombay State Legislature. Like the Madras Act of 1951, the question of the Bombay Act as expressed in its preface was to control and to improve arrangement for the organization of open religious and beneficent trusts in the State of Bombay.
Article 28 – Prohibition of religious instruction in the State-aided Institutions
(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.
(2) Nothing shall apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution.
(3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.
Aruna Roy v. Union of India – a PIL was filed under Article 32 wherein it was contended by the petitioner that the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) which was published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training is violative of the provisions of the constitution. It was also contended that it was anti-secular and was also without the consultation of the Central Advisory Board of Education and hence it should be set aside. NCFSE provided education for value development relating to basic human values, social justice, non-violence, self-discipline, compassion, etc. The court ruled that there is no violation of Article 28 and there is also no prohibition to study religious philosophy for having value-based life in a society.