India, most widely known as the land of spiritual beliefs, intellectual thought, and culture, has also been the birthplace of a number of religions, some of which also remain in this period. ‘Religion’ is a question of preference, interpretation and conviction altogether. We may infer that people in this country have deep confidence and reliance when it comes to their religion, paying attention to the Indian scenario, as they perceive that religion brings value and purpose to their lives. When it comes to individuals who are highly dedicated to their faith, they leave no stone unturned in displaying a considerable amount of commitment to their respective religion.

 

The Indian Constitution grants people different kinds of human rights. The right to freedom of religion is also one of the constitutional rights guaranteed by the constitution. India is a secular country, so every person residing in India’s territory has the right to follow any. This right practically entitles every Indian citizen to practise and propagate the religion of their choice and gives them the freedom to preach. This right gives them the opportunity to preach about their faith, gives them the opportunity to spread it among all without any fear of governmental vengeance, and also gives them the assurance of practicing it within the country’s jurisdiction in an amicable manner.

 

We may say that it is the land of diversity when we speak about India, be it in terms of ethnicity, religion, faith, class, caste, etc. It is a nation where since time immemorial, millions of individuals belonging to various castes, sub-castes, races, dialects, and even those following various religions have resided. When it comes to growth, the variations in terms of communities or religion or caste are not seen at all as a disadvantage or impediment, but it is considered to be a crucial factor that helps enrich culture not only in society but also in the nation as a whole.

When it comes to exercising one’s religious views, India is completely neutral, unbiased and impartial. The Constitution ensures that no person is deprived of this freedom to peacefully profess within the Indian territory the religion of his choosing. The Constitution is highly respected and gives the idea of secularism the utmost importance. In the eyes of the constitution, secularism has considerable meaning and also enjoys dignified recognition. The 42nd constitutional amendment used the term ‘secular’ in the preamble.

 

Every person has the right to have faith in some specific cult or denomination’s religious beliefs. According to the Constitution, the allocation of this right is primarily to provide each person with an opportunity to declare openly, honestly and without reservation what he really feels about his respective religion, his conceptions and ideologies about the religious activity in which he has indulged himself. The right to profess a specific religion means allowing a person in society to express his thinking process, attitude and points of view to some other people with the intention of spreading his religion and making them well versed and clear in their heads. While every individual is entitled to the right to preach and extend the religion of his own heart and desire, it must also be taken into account that this right should not be taken for granted, it should not misuse the freedom allotted. The person should ensure that they do not participate in some form of criminal or other anti-social behavior when exercising this right. One must always bear in mind that social harmony is not at all hindered in the course of using this right for one’s own personal good or gain, and no harm or any kind of pain is imposed on any member of society. They need to confirm that they do not harm the religious feelings of the other devotees while practicing this right granted by the constitution. When it comes to practicing their faith, everyone has a different approach, but at the same time it is disallowed to practice it in a way that would incite violence and promote hate among the masses. For every person, it is necessary to respect the faith and religious feelings of others that are prevalent in society at large. The law does not authorize any person to enforce on other citizens their religious beliefs or opinions. Every person is required to preach his faith in a reasonable way. It is not appropriate to immerse himself in unethical and unlawful acts in the name of religion and disrupt the country’s order and unity. If any person is found guilty of doing some kind of bad or unethical acts on the ground of upholding the norms and practices of his faith, no citizen will go scot free. The law does not punish any person for carrying out his religious beliefs relevant to his own whims and fancies and creating a situation of indignation, confusion and hostility. It is an undeniable fact that every person has his or her own ways and means of practicing his or her religion, but it should not proceed in a haphazard manner. An individual is not liable to the State for the variety of his religious beliefs. God granted the right of adoration for man to worship as he wished. No person may be compelled by law to follow a certain form of worship. But, certainly, in order to preserve social order and discipline in the country, the law has the power to cease the practice of any kind of malicious and corrupt religious activities that are carried out. It sets a bad precedent for the current masses when a person adopts an illegal way of practicing or promoting his religion, as it conveys to them that everyone is entitled to practice the freedom of religion assigned to them in any way, even though in the eyes of law it may be unlawful and unethical.

 

Every religion has its own code of conduct, rites, worship modes for ceremonies, etc., but a person should take into account the preservation of decency and morality when observing and obeying the same. They need to be conscious that the religious practices to which they resorts do not give rise to any kind of dispute and cause the property and lives of the people in society to be ruined. If any actions threatening the security and unity of the country are projected in its eyes, the law will take the necessary steps and measures.

 

Article 25 and Article 28 of the Indian Constitution grants all people living within the geographical limits of the nation the right to freedom of religion.

1. Freedom of conscience and free profession of religion.( Article 25)

2. Freedom to manage religious affairs (Article 26)

3. Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion( Article 27)

4. Freedom to attend religious instructions ( Article 28)

A significant question emerged in Quareshi vs The State as to whether the prohibition of cow slaughter influenced the religious rights of the Mahomedans. On behalf of the petitioner, it was argued that the sacrifice of a cow on the day of Bakri-Id was part of the Muslim faith and approved by the Khuran as well. However, on the ground that satisfactory evidence to support it had not been generated, the Supreme Court rejected this argument.

 

In L. T .Swumiar v Commr. H.R.F. Madras it has been held that even if a tax is imposed on persons belonging to a particular religion, in order to meet the expenses of that particular religion , such tax is void.

Author – Vedika Ghai (Intern, Prerna Foundation)