Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion under Indian Constitution

KEYWORDS:- CONSTITUTION- RELIGIOUS RIGHTS-

INDIAN CONSTITUTION

25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law—
(a)regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which maybe associated with religious practice;
(b)providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
Explanation I.—The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.
Explanation II.—In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

Devider

COMMENT

Article 25 secures to every person, subject of course to public order, health and morality and other provisions of Part-III, including Article 17 freedom to entertain and exhibit by outward acts as well as propagate and disseminate such religious belief according to his judgment and conscience for the edification of others. The right of the State to impose such restrictions as are desired or found necessary on grounds of public order, health and morality is inbuilt in Articles 25 and 26 itself. Article 25(2) (b) ensures the right of the State to make a law providing for social welfare and reform besides throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus and any such rights of the State or of the communities or classes of society were also considered to need due regulation in the process of harmonizing the various rights. The vision of the founding fathers of constitution to liberate the society from blind and ritualistic adherence to mere traditional superstitious beliefs sans reason or rational basis has found expression in the form of Article 17. The legal position that the protection under Articles 25 and 26 extend a guarantee for rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are integral parts of religion and as to what really constitutes and essential part of religion or religious practice has to be decided by the Courts with reference to the doctrine of a particular religion or practices regarded as parts of religion, came to be equally firmly laid down.[N. Adithayan Versus The Travancore Devaswom Board and others AIR 2002 SC 3538]