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Right to Freedom of Religion in India Latest News
The ministry added that the word ‘propagate’ in Article 25 Right to Freedom of Religion in India does not include the right to convert. The word ‘propagate’ refers to a positive right to spread one’s religion by explaining its tenets.
Fraudulent or induced conversion violates the right to freedom of conscience of an individual apart from hampering public order. Therefore, the state can use its power to regulate/restrict it.
Right to Freedom of Religion in Indian Constitution
- Articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution of India grant the right to freedom of religion to not only individuals but also religious groups in India.
- Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion):
- Article 25 provides the freedom of conscience, the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion to all citizens.
- However, these freedoms can be restricted on the basis of public order, health, and morality.
- Article 26 (Freedom to manage religious affairs):
- The right to form and maintain institutions for religious and charitable intents
- The right to manage its own religious affairs
- The right to own and acquire movable and immovable property
- The right to administer such property in accordance with law
- Article 27 (Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion):
- No person shall be forced to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically used in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.
- Article 28 (Freedom to attend religious instructions):
- No religion instruction shall be allowed in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.
- This condition shall not apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust that mandates that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution
- Individual attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall not be required to take part in any religious instruction.
Laws on Right to Freedom of Religion Conversions
- Currently, there are no central laws restricting or regulating religious conversions.
- However, many Private Member Bills have been introduced in the Parliament, to regulate religious conversions. There are yet to be approved.
- Many states have implemented laws to prevent forceful religious conversions.
Judiciary’s Opinion on Right to Freedom of Religion Conversions
- Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had observed that fraudulent religious conversions ultimately affect the security of the nation and freedom of religion and conscience of citizens.
- The Court had directed the Union government to file an affidavit what it intended to do to curb forceful or deceitful religious conversions.
- The court added that that there may be freedom of religion, but there cannot be freedom of religion by forced conversion.
- In 2021, the apex court had forced the withdrawal of a similar petition that had alleged ‘forceful’ conversion using threats, intimidation or bribes.
- The court had said that under Article 25 of the Constitution, an individual is free to profess, practice and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality and health.
Judicial Judgments on Right to Freedom of Religion Conversion
- Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, 1977: The Supreme Court of India had considered the issue whether the fundamental rights to practice and propagate religion also includes the right to convert.
- The court concluded that the right to propagate does not include the right to convert, and therefore had upheld the constitutional validity of the laws enacted by Madhya Pradesh and Odisha legislatures prohibiting conversion by force, fraud, or allurement.
- Sarala Mudgal’s case in 1995: The Supreme Court had made observations regarding the necessity of having a unified Central Legislation on Religious Conversion.