TODAY -

Right to religion is a fundamental right

Aaron Keishing *

High Court Complex at Chingmeirong Imphal on April 07 2012
High Court Complex at Chingmeirong Imphal in April 2012 :: Pix - Bullu Raj



The word ''secular' which was embedded in the Preamble to the Constitution in 1976 implies that there is no official religion in India. Therefore, the State shall not have religion of its own and ought to be nonpartisan as between religion. Furthermore, that, any political party which looked to catch or offer State power ought not embrace a specific religion.

On the off chance that a political party or a candidate embraced a specific religion for securing their votes, if that party or lawmaker came to power, the religion upheld by it or by him would turn into the official religion and every other religion would come to procure an optional or less favorable position. Under Section 123(3A) read with Section 99 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a competitor's race may be put aside just in case that he spoke to the electorate to vote in favor of the supporters of a specific religion.

Articles 25 and 26 encapsulate a tolerance for all religions. Along these lines, the State should have no religion of its own and all people might be similarly qualified for the flexibility of soul and the privilege uninhibitedly to profes, hone and spread religion. What's more, that, the State should not victimize any resident on the ground of religion as it were.

Article 25(1) reads, "...all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion." "The freedom guaranted by this Article is not only to entertain such religious belief, as may be approved of by his judgment and conscience, but also to exhibit his belief in such outward acts as he thinks proper and to propagate or disseminate his ideas for the edification of others."[1]

The insurance ensured under Articles 25 and 26 isn't restricted to issues of doctrine or conviction however reaches out to acts done in pursuance of religion and, in this way contains a certification for rituals, observances, preaching services and methods of love which are fundamental or essential piece of religion. "Hence, Art. 25(1) guarantees to every citizen no only the right to entertain such religious beliefs as may appeal to his conscience, but also the right to exhibit his belief in his conduct by such outward acts as may appear to him proper in order to spread his ideas for the benefits of others." [2]

The right to freedom of religion is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, subject to restrictions on the grounds of public order, morality and health; other provisions of Part III of the constitution; regulating nonreligious activity associated with religious practice; social welfare and reform and throwing open Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes of Hindus. "While one limb guarantees the right the other limb incorporates restrictions on the exercise of the right so that they may not conflict with public welfare or morality." [3]

The privilege to propogate one's religion implies the right to impart a man's beliefs to someone else or to uncover the principles of that convictions. It is the embodiment of decide of law that every individual has the assurance of law to unreservedly declare, rehearse and engender his religion. In this manner, the State in under obligation to secure the benefit of all nationals independent of their religious beliefs.

In Hadiya case [4], the Supreme Court of India in its judgment on 8th March 2018, held that right to convert is a fundamental right and right to marry is a person of one's choice is integral to Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution. It was held observed that the right to freedom of religion and marry cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable.

Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. The constitution exists for believers as well as agnostics. The Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he speaks to adhere. "We cannot see how she has been brainwashed. We cannot interfere", stated the bench.

Thus, characteristic for the freedom which the Constitution ensures as a crucial right is the capacity of every person to take choices on issues integral to the quest for bliss. The constitution exists for devotees and additionally skeptics. The Constitution ensures the capacity of every person to seek after a lifestyle or confidence to which she or he addresses follow. Noboday can perceive how she or he has been mentally conditioned. Even court can't meddle in it. In Kesavananda Case [5], the Apex court held that secularism is a basic structure of the Consitution and cannot be repealed or amended.

That, the punishment for promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion is imrpisonment for 3 years or if the offense is committed in place of worship etc. is imprisonment for 5 years and fine under 153A I.P.C, 1860, which is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, that is a compromise cannot be reached between the parties.

Further, Section 295 of I.P.C says that destruction, damage, or defilement of a place of worship or an object held sacred, with intent to insult the religion of a class of persons, is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years, or with fine , or with both.

Again, the deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulating its religion or the religious beliefs is punishable under Section 295A of I.P.C. with imprisonment of either description for a term which may 3 years or with fine or with both. Disturbing religious assembly and trespassing in any place of worship, sculpture or burial places with intend to wound the feelings of any person or insult the religion of any person is punishable under Section 296 and 297 of IPC.

References:

1. The Commr., Hindu Religious Endowments v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Sri Shirur Mutt (1954) SC.
2. Mittal S.P.v. Union of India, AIR 1983 SC
3. The Commissioner Of Police & Ors vs Acharya Jagdishwarananda 1 (para 77-78), cited by former Judge, SC, Hon'ble Dr. Justice AR Lakshmanan and Hon'ble Justice Bhagabati Prosad Banerjee, Judge (Retd.), HC of Calcutta in their Dr Durga Das Basu, Shorter Constitution of India.
4. Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M & Ors. SLA(Crl.) No. 5777/2017 SC.
5. Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC.




* Aaron Keishing wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is an Advocate at High Court of Manipur and can be contacted at aaronkeishing(AT)yahoo(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on April 16 , 2018.



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