Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar
India is a secular State. The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 has inserted the word Secular in the Preamble. The court said that "State tolerance of religion does not make it either a religious or a theocratic State". Secularism represents faith born out of rational faculties and it enabled to see the imperative requirements for human progress in all aspects. Secularism is neither anti-God nor pro-God as it treats alike the devout, agnostic and the atheist.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION- ARTICLE 25(1)
Guarantees to every person the freedom of conscience and the right to progress, practice and propagate religion. The right guaranteed under article 25(1) like other Constitutional rights is not absolute. This right is subject to public order, morality, and health and to other provisions of part 3 of the Constitution. Also under sub-clause (a) and (b) of clause (2) of article 25 the State is empowered by law-
(a) To regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice
(b) To provide for (i) social welfare and reform and
(ii) to open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
Under article 25 (1) a person has a twofold freedom-
(a) Freedom of conscience;
(b) Freedom to progress, practice and propagate religion.
FREEDOM TO MANAGE RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS- ARTICLE 26
Article 26 says that subject to public order morality and health every religious denomination of any section of it shall have the following rights:-
(a) To establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes
(b) To manage its own affairs in matters of religion
(c) To own and acquire movable and immovable property
(d) To administer such property in accordance with law.
RIGHT TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN- INSTITUTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE PURPOSES-
Under Article 26(a) every religious denomination has the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
Azeez Basha v. Union of India (AIR 1968 SC 662)- the words "establish and maintain" must be read together. Therefore, only those institutions which religious institutions establishes which it can claim to maintain it.
RIGHT TO MANAGE 'MATTERS OF RELIGION'-
Under Article 26(b) every religious denomination is free to manage its own affairs in 'matters' of religion.
Bira Kishore Dev v. State of Orissa (AIR 1964 SC 1501)- the Shri Jagannath Temple act took the management of secular activities of the temple from Raja of Puri and vested it in the committee constituted under the act. The court held the act valid.
RIGHT TO ADMINISTER PROPERTY BY DENOMINATION-
Under Article 26(c) a religious denomination had the right to acquire and own property and to administer such property in accordance with law. The right to administer property owned by a religious denomination is a limited right, and it is subject to the regulatory power of the State in clause(2)(a) of article 25 and also any general property law.
Rati Lal v. State of Bombay, a law which took away the right of administration altogether from religious denomination and vested it in another secular authority was held to be violative of the right guaranteed by Article 26(d).
FREEDOM FROM TAXES FOR PROMOTION OF ANY PARTICULAR RELIGION- ARTICLE 27
Article 27 provides that no person shall be compelled to pay any tax for the promotion and maintenance of any particular religion or denomination. This article emphasize the secular characters of State. The public money collected by way of tax cannot be spent by the State for the promotion of any particular religion. The prohibition is against giving any aid to any particular religion. This means that if State aid is to extend to all religious institutions along with secular ones alike without any discrimination, then Article 27 is not applicable.
PROHIBITION OF RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION IN STATE-AIDED INSTITUTIONS- ARTICLE 28
According to article 28(1), no religious instruction shall be imported in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. Under clause 1(3) no person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State fund shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in any such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in any such institution or to any premises attached thereto unless such person or if such person is minor his guardian has given consent thereto. Thus, article 28 mentions 4 types of educational institutions:
(a) Institutions wholly maintained by the State.
(b) Institutions recognized by the State.
(c) Institutions that are receiving aid out of State fund.
(d) Institutions that are administered by the State but are established under any trust or endowment
In the institutions of (a) type, no religious instructions can be imparted. in (b) type and (c) type institutions, religious instructions may be imparted only with the consent of the individuals. In (d) type of institutions, there is no restriction on religious instruction.
Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar