Religious Freedom In India

A religion that is small enough for us to understand would not be large enough for our needs. Grenvile KleiserThe author has written this article in order to signify what religious freedom is. However before that we require to understand what religion is. Religion is associated to human being’s relation to that which they favor as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine. Religion is commonly observed as consisting of a person’s relation to God or to gods or spirits. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions.

Religion is a phenomenon that is as complex as it is paradoxical. It has been linked with the human attempt to find the depths of meaning both in humans and in the universe. The existence of religion is as old as society itself. Religion of one sort of the other seemed to be universal among human beings. Religious worship had been expressed with all the magnificence of the arts, customs and traditions.

Freedom of religion is a basic human right that protects the ethics of all people. It allows us to think, express, and act upon what we extremely believe. Religious freedom or freedom of conscience is critical to the health of her diverse society. It allows different faiths and beliefs to flourish. Religious faith protects the rights of all groups and individuals, including the most respected, whether religious or not. Religious freedom is not as much a duty as it is a right. Religious freedom and civility rest on each other and form a shared responsibility founded on the essential dignity of each person. Religious organizations and people are responsible to state their views rationally and respectfully.

Religious freedom is recognized in constitutions and declarations all over the world. It is our birthright as human beings. It is the architecture that allows diverse faiths and principles to coexist; it's the right to live our moral opinions freely in Public. Religious liberty allows us to worship how we choose and gives all people the right to think what they want, come and say spontaneously and publicly what they think, and to live flexibly their lives and believes while allowing others to do the same. When religious freedom and conscience are protected societies are more likely to enjoy greater benefits of health prosperity harmony and stability. Freedom of religion is not freedom from religion. Religious freedom is the right to exercise your faith, to have faith, and to manifest it publicly and privately. it is also the right to act and interact with people of different faiths in a way that is dependable with your religious convictions. Religious freedom is a principle that helps the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or acceptance in teaching, practice, worship, and performance. It also includes the freedom to transformation one's religion or beliefs.

The ideal nature and scope of religion under a modern constitution, as has been suggested in Chapters II, III, and IV, emerges from three distinct phases of constitutional guarantees. The positive religious freedom of religion, which assures religious freedom in general under the provisions of the Constitution of India, has been guaranteed by three Articles with all their clauses and explanations. These are Articles 25, 26, and 30, which deal with the 'freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion', 'freedom to manage religious affairs', and the 'right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions', respectively. They all enjoin the protection of the freedom of religion enjoyable by any person either individually or collectively, subject of course, to such limitations as the state may, for the well-being of its citizens, think it imperative to impose as warranted by the situation from time to time. This freedom springs positively and directly from the state's acceptance of the fact that a person, who is the follower of any religious faith or belief, must be allowed to perform its practices through acts.

The provisions of the Constitution of India, which guarantee the negative freedom of religion, i.e., the freedom of religion one enjoys as a citizen, are Article 15(1) and (4) regarding 'prohibition and discrimination on the grounds of religion, face, etc.' Article 16(1), (2), (4) and (5) regarding 'equality of opportunity in matters of public employment': Article 17, regarding 'abolition of untouchability': Article 29(2) regarding the 'protection of interests of minorities'; and Articles 325, 330 (1) and 332(1) ordering no communal electorates. These are meant for the liberty which any citizen is allowed to enjoy in a state that accepts the religious freedom of its citizens in principle, and it is that kind of freedom that would not have been granted otherwise. Under the Indian Constitution, it means that no citizen of India is deprived of any advantages, privileges, or immunities for belonging to any religious community or for following its beliefs and principles by the overt and explicit act.

The neutral freedom of religion, which accrues from the fact that one's state is a secular one, under the Indian Constitution, has also been rightly explained through three Articles, viz., 27, 290(A) and 28(1), (2) and (3), the former being about the principle of 'no special taxation for the promotion of any religion' and its exception, and the latter about 'no religious instruction to be imparted through the institution run or aided by the state. These provisions are meant for guaranteeing religious freedom which has not been adequately and exhaustively covered under the two former forms of freedom. The duty of the Constitution is not over when it prescribes the positive and negative guarantees of religious freedom. It must be careful enough to protect and safeguard the same by ensuring an atmosphere of neutrality, by introducing what is known in the US Constitution as 'the wall of separation' in all probable spheres of action where there are slightest chances of the two, the state and the religion, to confront each other. By this arrangement, no religion gets any special favour or preference from the state over the others as the state remains completely separate from religion and there comes into being nothing like a state religion, while provisions are made for the free exercise of every religious faith and act unless it runs contrary to other expressed and guaranteed provisions of constitutional rights.

Considered from all these angles, the restraints under different provisions guaranteeing religious freedom in the Constitution of India are largely justified. Yet, some modifications, alterations, and additions to redefine the places of religion and secularism in the Constitution are necessary. Law springs from the human necessities of social animals. Today, our necessities are different from the preceding generation. We, therefore, propose the redefining of the places of religion and secularism in our Constitution.

Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India. Modern India came into existence in 1947 and the Indian constitution's preamble was amended in 1976 to state that India is a secular state. However, in S.R Bommai v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India ruled that India was already a secular state from the time it adopted its constitution, what was done through this amendment is to state explicitly what was earlier contained implicitly under article 25 to 28. Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully. However, there have been numerous incidents of religious intolerance that resulted in riots and violence, notably, the 1984 Anti-Sikh Massacre in Delhi, 1990 Anti-Hindu riots in Kashmir, 2002 Gujarat Riots, and the 2008 Anti-Christian riots in Odisha. Some perpetrators of the 1984 Anti-Sikh Massacre in Delhi have not been brought to justice despite widespread condemnation.

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution has the word 'secular', and articles 25 to 28 implying that the State will not discriminate, patronize or meddle in the profession of any religion. However, it shields individual religions or groups by adding religious rights as fundamental rights. Article 25 says 'all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.' Further, Article 26 says that all denominations can manage their affairs in matters of religion. All these rights are subject to be regulated by the State.

The government has set up the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to investigate religious discrimination and to make recommendations for redress to the local authorities. Though they do not have any power, local and central authorities generally follow them. These organizations have investigated numerous instances of religious tension including the implementation of 'anti-conversion' bills in numerous states, the 2002 Gujarat violence against Muslims, and the 2008 attacks against Christians in Orissa.

Religious freedom protects people's right to leave speak and act according to their beliefs peacefully and publicly. It protects the ability to be themselves at work, in class, or at social activities. Religious freedom is more than the freedom to worship at a temple, church, or mosque it makes sure that people do not have to go against their core values and beliefs to conform to culture or government. Religious freedom benefits everyone. The religion has a great role in a democratic society where there is freedom to hoard and use the material goods for selfish purposes ignoring the claim of others, the community and the nation. It preserves diversity in the nation command where people of different faiths, worldviews, and beliefs can peacefully leap together without fear of punishment from the government.

India is a plural country with many religions well the majority religion is Hinduism Islam and Christianity are the primary religious minorities. The freedom movement accorded all religions equal status, but the communal forces gathered some religions as alien.

The constitution command which was the outcome of the freedom movement laid the foundation of The Indian Republic. In the accords everybody the right to practice, propagate and preach their religion. Those who have faith in God and those who are ignoring not atheists had the same rights and are free to leave by their values. Freedom of religion is basic to these articles of the constitution, but in the last few decades in general and recent years in particular, the degree of religious freedom in India has declined.

As a conclusion, the violation of freedom of religion is against the constitution, which makes it the duty of the state to protect this freedom. The problem is that its communalism on the rise, those out to torment religious minorities and violate the freedom of religion, enjoy a lot of impurities. India needs a humanist society that does not tolerate but celebrates diversity, which was the core strength of our freedom movement. It is the duty of government to protect the rights of the people and ensure respect for all.

07 July 2022
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