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Right to Freedom of Religion

Right to freedom includes right to freedom of religion as well. In this case too, the Constitution makers were very particular to state it clearly. India is a secular state. Most people in India, like anywhere else in the world, follow different religions. Some may not believe in any religion. Secularism is based on the idea that the state is concerned only with relations among human beings, and not with the relation between human beings and God. A secular state is one that does not establish any one religion as official religion. Indian secularism practices an attitude of a principled and equal distance from all religions. The state has to be neutral and impartial in dealing with all religions.

Right to profess, practice and propagate the religion he or she believes in. Every religious group or sect is free to manage its religious affairs. A right to propagate one’s religion, however, does not mean that a person has right to compel another person to convert into his religion by means of force, fraud, inducement or allurement. Of course, a person is free to change religion on his or her own will. Freedom to practice religion does not mean that a person can do whatever he wants in the name of religion. For example, one cannot sacrifice animals or human beings as offerings to supernatural forces or gods. Religious practices which treat women as inferior or those that infringe women’s freedom are not allowed. For example, one cannot force a widowed woman to shave head or wear white clothes.

A secular state is one that does not confer any privilege or favour on any particular religion. Nor does it punish or discriminate against people on the basis of religion they follow. Thus the government cannot compel any person to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious institution. There shall be no religious instruction in the government educational institutions. In educational institutions managed by private bodies no person shall be compelled to take part in any religious instruction or to attend any religious worship.


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