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Religious privileges granted to every person under the Indian Constitution


Every citizen has the right to get necessities like food, shelter, and clothing in this world they also have the right to believe and worship God in their way. It is an essential part of a human to seek God and live according to one’s own beliefs. If there is an effort to repress this right to freedom of religion it will be considered as an attack on every individual’s dignity. The Indian constitution provides certain rights to ensure that every individual is covered with the freedom to choose or convert into any religion they wish. There are also certain reasonable restrictions to these rights which are conferred to safeguard public order and morality from being exploited in the name of religion. This article exposes the detailed review on right to religion which is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the reasonable restrictions which are connoted under the article.

Religion and its origin:

A unified and organized system of practices, beliefs, rules, and ceremonies that relate humanity to an order of survival is known as ‘religion’.

The approximate period of when humans started to be religious remains as a question to date. But the invention of writing about religious history has traced back its origin to 3200 BC. The timeline of religion shows that religion came into existence in the 16th and 17th centuries. And also, the middle and lower Paleolithic period is considered as the place where the idea of religion originated as per the earliest archaeological evidence.

India- a secular country:

Not recognizing any religion as a State religion and treating all religions equally is known as ‘Secularism’. India is declared to be a “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic” by the Preamble of the Constitution[1]. The word ‘Secular’ in the Preamble was inserted in the 42nd amendment, 1976 by the Constitution. The concept of secularism is implicit in the Constitution.

“Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship”.

In the case of S.R. Bommai v Union of India, the Supreme Court held that “secularism is the basic feature of the Constitution[2]”.

India is a country with many religions. It includes Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and others. But religion is purely being treated as a personal matter. It is a matter of individual faith and is separate from all economic, cultural, political, and social aspects. The concept of secularism mainly focuses on discrimination or partiality on grounds of religion and equal opportunity should be given to all citizens to follow any religion. It is the ancient doctrine in India that the State protects all religions but interferes with none[3]. Worshipping God should be according to the dictates of one’s conscience[4].

Secularism under the Indian Constitution:

  1. Article 14 and 15 enlarges the concept of secularism. Article 14 gives the right of equality and equal protection to every citizen before the law and Article 15 ensures that no person should be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, caste, sex, race, or place of birth.

  2. The opportunity of public employment and reiterates should be given to every citizen under Article 16 clause 1 irrespective of their religion, caste, sex, race, residence, or place of birth.

  3. Article 25 to 28 specifically speaks about the right to freedom of religion.

  4. Also, under Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, it is stated that every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

Right to freedom of religion:

Under the Indian Constitution Article 25 to 28 deals about the right to profess, practice and propagate any religion. The Supreme Court held that the Constitutional makers want to establish a secular state and hence Article 25 to 28 has been included in the Constitution though the word ‘secular state’ is not expressly mentioned in the constitution[5].

Article 25 states the “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion[6].

Any person has the right to entertain any religious belief and idea because religion is all about a matter of personal faith and belief. Thus, the Indian Constitution has guaranteed two folds of freedom under Art 25 clause 1, which includes,

  1. Freedom of conscience:

Every citizen can decide his/her relation with God in the manner they like. Because each person is bound by the right to think freely based on conscientious or religious or other beliefs according to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  1. Freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion:

‘To profess and practice’ is articulated and expressed form of the freedom of conscience.

  1. Profess- Openly and freely declaring one’s faith and belief.

  2. Practice- to perform the religious rites, rituals, duties, beliefs, and ideas of any particular religion.

  3. Propagate – spreading and publicizing one’s religion without any coercion.

In the Bijoe Emmanuel v The State of Kerala[7], it was held that the fundamental right under Article 25(1) was violated in expelling those children who refused to sing the National Anthem. The court held that the religious practices running counter to public order, morality, health, or a policy of the Government to uphold the sovereignty and integrity and unity of the Nation must give way for the benefit of the people and the nation as a whole.

The State is empowered by the law to regulate and restrict any economic, financial, and political or the secular activity which may be associated with religious practice and nothing in this article shall affect the operation preventing the State from making law[8].

Article 26 gives people the freedom to manage religious affairs. The right to establish and maintain an institution for religious purposes and the right to manage all the religious matters on their own is also provided under this Article. Article 26 confers the rights of all citizens and religious denominations to establish and maintain the educational majority[9].

Article 27 frees a person from paying tax for the promotion of any particular religion or religious denomination. In the case of Sri Jagannath v. the State of Orissa[10], the Supreme Court held that the nature of the Orissa Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1939 was a fee and not a tax.

Article 28 prohibits religious instruction or religious worship in the State-aided institution. Four types of educational institutions are involved in Article 28. They are,

  1. Institutions that are wholly maintained by State.

  2. State-recognized institutions.

  3. Institutions which receive aid from State fund.

  4. Institutions that are established under any trust or endowment but are administered by the State.

In the case of D.A.V. College v State of Punjab[11], it was held that the words “religious instructions” do not prohibit the education of religions. Hence the academic study of teaching by any great saint is not prohibited under Article 28(1) of the Constitution.

Restrictions under the right to freedom of religion:

The freedom under these Articles is restricted in certain ways. Which includes;

  1. No person can act against the public order, morality, and health of the public in the name of religion.

  2. One cannot force another person to convert into one’s religion ‘forcibly’.

The validity of two Acts namely The Madhya Pradesh Dharma Act, 1968, and The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 was challenged on the ground that they are violative under Art 25(1) of the Constitution[12].

  1. One cannot exercise any economic, financial, political, and secular activities along with religious activities.

  2. One cannot have the right to practice social evils in the name of religion. If so the State as the power to eradicate any social practices which would act as a stand to the country’s progress.

Laws which govern religious issues:

Many laws were imposed to stop religious issues. Some of them are

  1. Anti-conversion laws and forced conversions:

This act mainly focuses on the prevention of forced or induced conversion of any person from his/her religion to another religion.

  1. Cow slaughter and vigilantism:

In many states of India, the cow slaughter legislation has been passed.

  1. The Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act, 1977.

  2. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1951.

  3. The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955.

  4. The Chhattisgarh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 2004.

  5. The Tamil Nadu Animal Preservation Act, 1958.etc.,


India is consisting of a huge population it gives room for many religions. India is also known for religious uncertainty in various forums. several times the uncertainty of religion has been lifted. government has passed religious protection Acts to supervise those situations where the uncertainty of religion took place.  Thus, every citizen is provided with the right to follow any religion and to profess and propagate the same in this secular country. Every person should avoid practicing any cruelty in the name of freedom of religion and should live as an example to Unity in Diversity.


[1] Inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976.

[2] (1994) S.C.C. 1.

[3] Vasudev v Vamanji, ILR 1881 Bom. 80.

[4] Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, (1901).

[5] St. Xavier College v. State of Gujarat, A.I.R. 1974 S..C 1389.

[6] INDIA CONST. art. 25.

[7] (1984) S.C.C. 15.

[8] INDIA CONST. art. 25, cl. 2.

[9] T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors v State of Karnataka & Ors, (1994) 2 S.C.C. 734.

[10] A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 400.

[11] (1971) 2 S.C.C. 269.

[12] Rev Stainislaus v. State of M.P, A.I.R. 1977 S.C. 908.


SASTRA Deemed University



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