Right To Freedom Of Religion


India is a multi-religious state. Besides Hindus, there are Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and many others residing in our country. The Constitution guarantees to every person freedom of conscience and the right to practice and propagate any religion, i.e., everyone enjoys the right to follow the religion of his or her choice. This freedom is considered as a hallmark of democracy.

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Historically, there were rulers and emperors in different parts of the world who did not allow residents of their countries to enjoy the right to freedom of religion. Persons following a religion different from that of the ruler were either persecuted or forced to convert to the official religion of the rulers. Therefore, democracy has always incorporated the freedom to follow the religion of one’s choice as one of its basic principles.

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Freedom of faith and worship

In India, everyone is free to choose a religion and practice that religion.

Freedom of religion also includes the freedom of conscience. This means that a person may choose any religion or may choose not to follow any religion.

Freedom of religion includes the freedom to profess, follow and propagate any religion.

Freedom of religion is subject to certain limitations.

  • The government can impose restrictions on the practice of freedom of religion in order to protect public order, morality and health. This means that the freedom of religion is not absolute or an unlimited right. The government can interfere in religious matters
    for rooting out certain social evils. For example in the past, the government has taken steps banning practices like sati, bigamy or human sacrifice. Such restrictions cannot be opposed in the name of interference in right to freedom of religion.
  • The limitations on the right to freedom of religion always produce tensions between followers of various religions and the government. When the government seeks to restrict some activities of any religious group, people of that religion feel that this is interference in their religion.

Freedom of religion becomes a matter of political controversy for yet another reason.

  • The Constitution has guaranteed the right to propagate one’s religion. This includes persuading people to convert from one religion to another. However, some people resent conversions on the ground that these are based on intimidation or inducement. The Constitution does not allow forcible conversions. It only gives us the right to spread information about our religion and thus attract others to it.

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Equality of All Religions

Being a country which is home to several religions :

  • It is necessary that the government must extend equal treatment to different religions.
  • Negatively, it means that government will not favour any particular religion.
  • India does not have any official religion.

We don’t have to belong to any particular religion in order to be a prime minister or president or judge or any other public official. We have also seen that under the right to equality, there is a guarantee that government will not discriminate on the basis of religion in giving employment. The institutions run by the state will not preach any religion or give religious education nor will they favour persons of any religion. The objective of these provisions is to sustain and nurture the principle of secularism.

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Articles In The Constitution (25 – 28)

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Bibliography : NIOS – Political Science & NCERT – Indian Constitution At Work

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