prpri What is Secularism ? – Right to Freedom of Religion What is Secularism ? – Right to Freedom of Religion

Secularism is about understanding, developing and respecting different religions. The word ‘secularism’ probably comes from late medieval Europe. In 1948, during a debate in the Constituent Assembly, KT Shah asked to include the word “secular” in the preamble to the Constitution. The assembly members approved the secular nature of the Constitution, which was not included in the preamble. Then, in 1976, the government of Indira Gandhi passed the 42nd Amendment Act and the word ‘secular‘ was added to its preamble. Mini-Constitution, i.e. The 42nd Amendment Act, also known as the, is the most comprehensive Amendment to the Constitution.

In the highly controversial Ayodhya case, the appeals court ruled that the Constitution postulates religious equality. The country is secular, and people can promote it through tolerance and cooperation.

The right to freedom of religion is assured to all the Indians under constitutional Articles 25 to 28. This blog, which is related to the concept of secularism, is very important. You can read everything about these rights in this article.

Right to Freedom of Religion:

The Indian Constitution guarantees individuals and religious groups in India the right to freedom of religion. This is covered in Articles 25 to 28.

Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and occupation, practice and propagation of religion): Article 25 guarantees all citizens freedom of conscience and religion and the practice and spread of religion.

The above points are all based upon and subject to public order, health and morals:

  • This article also stipulates that the state can make laws. It regulates and limits financial, economic, political or other secular activities in connection with religious practice.
  • It ensures social welfare and reform or opening of public Hindu religious institutions for all groups and classes of Hindus. According to this provision, Hindus are interpreted to include people who are Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists, and Hindu institutions must also be interpreted accordingly.
  • Sikhs wearing kirpans are considered part of the Sikh religion.

Article 26 (Freedom to regulate religious affairs):

This article states that each religious denomination has the following rights, subject to morality, health and public order.

  • The right to create and maintain religious institutions, including charitable purposes.
  • The right to regulate one’s religious affairs.
  • The right to acquire real estate and movable property.
  •  The right to manage this property in accordance with the law.

Article 27 (Right and Freedom to Pay Taxes for the Promotion of Any Religion):

According to Article 27 of the Indian Constitution, there can be no taxes whose income is used directly to promote and maintain a certain religion/religious denomination.

  • Article 28 (Freedom to attend religious lessons or church services at certain educational institutions):
  •  This article allows educational institutions supported by religious groups to disseminate religious education.
  • It stipulates that religious teaching may not be conducted in state educational institutions.
  • Educational institutions organized by the state but established by funds or trusts that require religious education in these institutions are excluded from the above clause (no religious education).
  • A person attending a state-recognized educational institution or receiving state assistance is not required to attend any religious education that can be taught at that institution or in religious worship at that institution unless he or she does not consent to it. In the case of minors, legal guardians must give their consent.

Secularism:

  • The word “secularism” means separate from religion.
  •  This has led to the separation of religion from state, social, economic and cultural life.
  •  Religion is a very personal matter.
  •  India’ with no state religion, is a secular country.
  •  But it also means that all religions and religions are respected equally in India.
  •  Words are also a part of the core constitutional structure. It became the part after the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution.
  • This concept is highly respected in Indian democracy.
  • Secularism is also an integral part of Indian culture, as evidenced by the many religions that coexisted in the country for centuries.
  • All religious groups in India have equal power without discrimination.

Indian and Western models of secularism:

As explained above, the term secularism refers to the separation of state and religion. However, this concept has slightly different connotations in Indian and Western countries. This is discussed further below.

  •  In the Western model, secularism means a complete separation of Church and state. This was due to the French Revolution, during which the Revolution tried to establish a “secular” government that did not affect either the Church or the clergy.
  •  Both institutions (Church and government) will not interfere with each other’s domains.
  •  In India, however, state and religion are not watertight compartments.
  •  Although the state must maintain an equal distance from all religions, the government’s influence on religious issues is widespread, albeit to a limited extent.
  •  In contrast to the western model, where states do not support any religious institution financially, states in India have opted for a positive engagement model.
  •  The state grants religious minorities the right to establish their educational institutions and partially supports these institutions.
  •  Many Hindu temples are managed directly by the state.
  •  The states have councils for the administration of large temples, councils of Waqf Board, etc.
  •  When we talk about people and communities in India, the word pluralism is more appropriate than secularism.
  •  Until recently, Western society was homogeneous with minimal religious (and other) minority groups.
  •  In India, many religious groups have shared common space in all respects over the centuries and have developed together.

Conclusion:

India is the most religiously diverse country. As a secular state, it does not have its religion, and every citizen has the right to choose, practice, propagate, and even change his religion. However, these rights are not constant and are based on constitutional limitations. No person in the name of any religion may engage in any activity that violates public order or causes any disturbance or intolerance among the Indian people.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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