One of the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution is the right to Freedom of Religion. As a secular nation, every citizen of India has the right to freedom of religion ie right to follow any religion. As one can find so many religions being practiced in India, the constitution guarantees to every citizen the liberty to follow the religion of their choice. According to this fundamental right, every citizen has the opportunity to practice and spread their religion peacefully. And if any incidence of religious intolerance occurs in India, it is the duty of the Indian government to curb these incidences and take strict actions against it. Right to freedom of religion is well described in the Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of Indian constitution.
Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
According to this right, every person is equally permitted to enjoy the freedom of conscience and the right to acknowledge, practice and spread religion. However, this right is subject to certain restrictions to maintain public law and order, morality and peace in the country. This article will not hinder the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law. It will also not restrict the working of any financial, economic, political or secular activity which may be related to the religious practice. However, an institution run by the State is not allowed to impart education that is pro-religion. And also the right to propagate a particular religion does not mean the right to convert another individual as this will violate other individual’s right to freedom of conscience.
Article 26: Freedom to run religious affairs
According to the Constitution of India, freedom to run religious affairs include the freedom to establish and maintain charitable institutions either to manage its own affairs in the matters of religion or to acquire and own movable and immovable property and to take care of such property, without infringing the law. However, only structured bodies such as religious denominations have the liberty to enjoy this right and the secular activity of such associations can be administered by the government. This right does not apply to individuals. Religious organizations can set up and control educational and other charitable institutions without any intervention of the state, except in case of any threat to public law and order.
Article 27: No person shall be compelled to pay any tax for the promotion or maintenance of any religion
According to this article of Indian constitution, no person shall be forced to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are particularly appropriated in payment of expenses for the spread or protection of any particular religion or religious denomination.
Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions
According to this fundamental right, no religious instruction shall be offered in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds. No person attending any educational institution acknowledged by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be obliged to take part in any religious instruction that may be instructed or taught in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be performed in such institution or in any premises. In case of a minor, his guardian has to give the consent for the same. Thus, article 28 forbids religious instruction in a wholly State-funded educational institution and educational institutions receiving aid from the State.
No country in this world has such a diverse religious background as India. Thus, the Right to Freedom of religion forms a very important Fundamental right of our country and aims at maintaining the principle of secularism in India. Indian constitution firmly states that all religions are equal before the law and no religion shall be favored over the other.