FREEDOM OF WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE RELIGION WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO INDIAN SOCIETY

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By V Arjun

INTRODUCTION

We know that religion has always been a major topic of humans all around the world for centuries. Each and every individual has given a way amount of energy for prospering their religion. Now, that point makes us wonder whether the man is  prospering religions or whether it is the other way around? There are uncountable cultures around the world with uncountable religions and each culture has got its own deity or God. Man has always prayed to almost all the energy sources on the Earth. That’s how the belief developed from, the period of caveman to modern man. We believe there is an energy which sustains us and more than that, we believe there is something that helps us at our tough times when we pray. This concept of praying is common among all the religions all around the world. The only change can be found in the way the praying is conducted. Later as man developed along with his society, he was never ready to leave the concept of God behind but he wasn’t sure of a person’s presence in the sky too. This changed the prayer, from concentrating and channeling the energy in one’s body to mere actions. The geography, the cultures, the languages etc. became a part of their beliefs too. This paved way for religions. Which later turned out to have greater importance than the man’s belief in God. When time changed religion was misunderstood to be the basic concept of God. Man, never wanted to think that it is a mere practice for reaching a state of peace in their own mind by concentrating. As in every field the humans have laid their hands upon, religion was also seen as a platform for power utilization and politics. This led the concentration of people to the growth of their own religion by propagating their ideas and increasing the religious population. Since we know the selfless character of the humans there started religious frictions. Hence, the importance of freedom of religion gained momentum. Coming to the religions in India, we know, there are a lot religions apart from the major religions that we know such as Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and so on. According to the 2001 census there are about 7 million people who belong to other religions in India. Also, there are many divisions in one religion itself. We know the divisions in the major religions, besides that, there are divisions in religions like Jainism. They are called Digambaras and Svetambara’s. These divisions are a result of the difference in geography and culture. Due to these reasons the right to freedom of religion became a part of our Constitution and the fundamental rights. In the year 1976, the word secular was added to the Constitution of India, in the 42nd amendment. Secular means no special interest in any of the religions. That is, being neutral and also impartial in the concept of religions. This situation is different in the United States. This is because in the United States of America, no action can be taken from the side of the state in religious matters. Whereas in India the religious reforms can be introduced and we know in  India there isn’t any state religion. The meaning of religion can be found as the belief in and worship of superhuman power which is still not understood. The  religion is an age long concept which is still rooted in the minds of the major population. The laws have made easy the concept of religious tolerance. But when we talk about that concept or just that word, we must understand that there must be something more than tolerance. The idea of religion is never above humanity and kindness. All systems and institutions were created for humans and by humans. Therefore, there must be a hike in the consciousness of the humans. A Russian rocket scientist named Tsiolkovsky had said the Earth is the cradle of humans, but not forever. Now the time has come to go forth, among the Stars and the future generations of humans depends upon the present generation of humanity. Each step must be forward and careful and not backward.

The Articles 25,26,27,28 of the Constitution of India gives the citizens of India the right to freedom of religion.

SCOPE OF ARTICLE 25

This Article gives an individual the right to practice, profess and propagate his religion but the right is not absolute and is subject to certain restrictions as to maintain public order, health and morality. The abolition of sati can be quoted as a major example of this provision. This doesn’t act as a hindrance to introduction of new laws as well as the working of existing laws and also, the working of social, economic, political and financial activities.[1]

SCOPE OF ARTICLE 26

This Article gives freedom to manage religious affairs and this liberty is for structured religious denominations as to maintain religious institutions. One thing that must be kept in mind is that the state can administer secular activities of the religious denominations.[2]

SCOPE OF ARTICLE 27

This Article gives freedom from taxation for the promotion of a religion. That is, no person shall be compelled to pay any tax for the promotion of a religion.[3]

SCOPE OF ARTICLE 28

This Article provides freedom from attending at a religious instruction and also religious worship in certain educational institutions, those are funded by the state completely or partially. This does not apply to those institutions administered by the state but established under trust.[4]

When we discuss cases related to the right to freedom of religion, the concept will be understood better.

CASES

1)In Santhosh Kumar and Others v. Secretary, Ministry of H.R.D, the court held that the Sanskrit language introduced in the syllabus Central Board of Secondary Education is not against the principles of secularism as all the languages were evolved from the language Sanskrit and it is not a language which belongs to Hinduism.[5]

2)In Aruna Roy v. Union of India, the court held that secularism means equal treatment  of all religions and respecting all religions accordingly. In this case, the Article 28 of Constitution of India was challenged as National Education Policy provided value-based education on all religions.[6]

3)In Bijoe Emmanuel v. state of Kerala ( also known as the National Anthem case), children were expelled from their school as they refused to sing the National Anthem of India because they belonged to the religion of Jevoha’s witnesses and therefore the petitioners argued the decision of the school was against the Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Later, the court declared that the act of the school was unconstitutional, as it was against Article 25 of the Constitution of India.[7]

4)In N. Adithayan v. Travancore Devaswom Board, the court declared the caste Brahmins do not have any monopoly over performing Poojas in the temples. That is, non- brahmins can also be qualified as pujaris.[8]

5) In Church of God in India v. K K R M C Welfare Association, the court held that no person has got the right to cause noise pollution  and disturb the peace and morality of a public in the name of exercising their right to freedom of religion under Article 25 and Article 26 of the Constitution of India. That is, usage of loudspeakers are not an essential part of practicing religion.[9]

6)In Acharya Jagdishwaranand v. Commissioner of Police, ( also known as Ananda Margis case), the court held that the prohibition of Tandava dance in public carrying weapons, is not violative of Article 25 as such a dance is not essential part of religion.[10]

7)In S.P. Mittal v. Union of India, court held that state can formulate regulations in this matter and the court laid down guidelines regarding the matters of religion and also its definition.[11]

8)In D.A.V. College Bathinda v. State of Punjab, the court held that teaching of Guru Nanak does not cause any violations to the Article 28 of the Constitution of India.[12]

9) In Res Stanislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the court held that forced conversion is not allowed and also added that an individual can propagate his religion but cannot force one person to join into another religion by conversion.[13]

10)In Javed v. State of Haryana, persons with more than two kids were disqualified to participate in Panchayati Raj election as Punch. The petitioner contended that it violated Article 25 of the Constitution of India as it acted against the religious beliefs of Muslim Community. Therefore, the court held that the provision of Panchayat is valid and is based on public order. Court added that it is not mandatory in the religion to have more than one child and hence it can be put to the law regulations.[14]

TODAY’S CONCEPT OF FREEDOM OF RELIGION

      As the Articles 25,26 of the Constitution of India got established, the court received power to determine whether a certain custom was essential for the basic structure of a religion or not.[15] This way the court struck down the age-old practice of not allowing women into Sabarimala Temple  based on the topic or concept of their menstrual cycle. This decision actually paved the way for other major protests which seeked justice for women based on equality. The major protests or the voices that were raised were of feminists and socialist. We know that the Sabarimala Temple issue arose in the form of a PIL in 2017 which spoke against the barring of entry of women belonging to the age group of ten years of age to fifty years of age. The major reason for the concern was due to the denial of women based on the biological factor of menstruation. Hence, the constitution bench declared the age-old practice unconstitutional and lifted the bar which disallowed the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple. This judgement can be termed as a pioneer in the population of judgements if they can be given the skeleton of a person. The court said that by allowing the women of all age groups to enter into the Sabarimala temple, that doesn’t cause any problem in the Hindu religion as a whole because the matter was concentrated to deity Ayyappa in Sabarimala and the followers of Ayyappa.[16] This judgement itself can be seen or taken as a reform as it turns out to be the reflection of olden times when the lower castes were not allowed to enter temples. The major reformatory movements such as the Vaikom Satyagraha and Temple entry movement paved the way for these tremendous revolutions in the history of Kerala, India and even the world as a whole. The revolution taking place in one part of the world indirectly affects a person in another part of the world through their consciousness as the basic structure of human consciousness is the same throughout different flesh and bones just the way the basic physical structure is similar. The reforms which led to the stoppage of the brutal practice of Sati also has a similar face to that of the Sabarimala temple issue and judgement. The judiciary is using the best of its power to decide matters according to its discretion by giving importance to the concept of dignified life and uplift the society to its modern norms as time has come to go for the stars. When we are going for a long ride, our motorcycles must be kept in perfect condition. Similarly, when we are trying to live among the Stars, we must get our society ready for such a venture.

CONCLUSION

In India equal protection must be given to people believing in all the faiths within the territory. That doesn’t mean the state always forces an individual to believe in any one religion and the state must maintain its neutrality in concept of beliefs and faith in God. The  time when society takes up a role in forcing individuals indirectly to follow a religion cannot be just ignored and pushed away. Many recent judgements and movements have shown the citizens of India the customs and religious practices must be removed or changed, if it is opposite to the context of various rights of an individual. At the same time the state must also make sure that the decisions are not biased and those decisions don’t become an immediate cause for any kind of religious mutiny. Therefore, the nation can be set forward only after keeping in mind that the balance of power among religions must be maintained. The concept of God cannot be eliminated from humans and also the same is to religions. There comes the importance of freedom of religion. The most important thing we must keep in mind that this freedom is not absolute and it comes with many restrictions. Also, what I believe is that our country India must be given more importance than religious sentiments. Only then our nation can reach further heights. There shouldn’t be any hindrance in the name of religion. Similarly, the reforms in a religion based on customs shouldn’t be suppressed. The reformation movement can be called the tongue of truth and modern times. That is what history and our ancestors have taught us. Let’s teach the next generation about the religion of kindness and give more importance to kindness than any religion.

REFERENCE

https://indiankanoon.org/

[1] Constitution of India,1950-Bare Act, Commercial Law Publishers(2019)

[2] Constitution of India,1950-Bare Act, Commercial Law Publishers(2019)

[3] Constitution of India,1950-Bare Act, Commercial Law Publishers(2019)

[4] Constitution of India,1950-Bare Act, Commercial Law Publishers(2019)

[5] Equivalent citations: AIR 1995 SC 293, JT 1994 (6) SC 454, 1994 (4) SCALE 391, (1994) 6 SCC 579, 1994 Supp 4 SCR 139, 1995 (1) UJ 165 SC,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1305668/

[6] INSC: [2002] INSC 386,https://www.google.com/amp/s/india.lawi.asia/ms-aruna-roy-and-ors-v-union-of-india-and-ors/amp/

[7] Equivalent citations: 1987 AIR 748, 1986 SCR (3) 518,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1508089/

[8] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1705114/

[9] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/88766/

[10] Equivalent citations: 1984 AIR 512, 1984 SCR (1) 447,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/798012/

[11] Equivalent citations: 1983 AIR, 1 1983 SCR (1) 729,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/312939/

[12] Equivalent citations: 1971 AIR 1737, 1971 SCR 688,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1596466/

[13] Equivalent citations: 1977 AIR 908, 1977 SCR (2) 611,https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1308071/

[14] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/57675307/

[15]  Akansha Yadav, Freedom of Religion under the Indian Constitution, iPleaders,https://www.google.com/amp/s/blog.ipleaders.in/freedom-of-religion-under-the-indian-constitution-2/amp/

[16] Akansha Yadav, Freedom of Religion under the Indian Constitution, iPleaders,https://www.google.com/amp/s/blog.ipleaders.in/freedom-of-religion-under-the-indian-constitution-2/amp/

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