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Freedom of Religion

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Freedom of Religion:


Context:

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking declaration of 26 verses of the Quran as unconstitutional, non-effective and non- functional on the ground that these promote extremism and terrorism and pose a serious threat to the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country.

Can such a belief be protected under freedom of religion?

Certainly not, as freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to public order, health, morality and other fundamental rights.

No one can take away anybody’s life as it would be contrary to Article 21, which guarantees right to life and personal liberty to everyone.

What’s the issue now?

  1. The petitioner has named three secretaries of the Centre as respondents. But, in purely legal terms, the writ jurisdiction lies against the “state’” and all these persons named as respondents are certainly not ‘state’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.
  2. Also, Under Indian law, only a “law” can be challenged as unconstitutional (Defined under Article 13(3)). Any religious scripture including the Quran is not considered a law. The divine books can be sources of law but not law in themselves.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of state under article 12.
  2. Article 13(3) is related to?
  3. Writ jurisdiction of Supreme Court and High Courts.
  4. Overview of Articles 21 and 25.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of freedom of religion under the Indian Constitution.

Sources: Indian Express.