Right to freedom of religion (Article 25, 26, 27, 28)

Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice and Propagation of Religion [Article 25]

It says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.

It gives Right to profess: Declaration of one’s religious beliefs and faith openly and freely.

It gives Right to practice: Performance of religious worship, rituals, ceremonies and exhibition of beliefs and ideas.

It gives Right to propagate: Transmission and dissemination of one’s religious beliefs to others or exposition of the tenets of one’s religion.

But, it does not include a right to convert another person to one’s own religion.

These rights are available to all persons—citizens as well as non-citizens.

However, these rights are subject to public order, morality, health and other provisions relating to fundamental rights.

Further, the State is permitted to:

regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity associated with religious practice; and provide for social welfare and reform or throw open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.


Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs [Article 26]

According to Article 26, every religious denomination or any of its section shall have the following rights:

Right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;

Right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;

Right to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and

Right to administer such property in accordance with law

Article 25 guarantees rights of individuals, while Article 26 guarantees rights of religious denominations or their sections.

The Supreme Court held that a religious denomination must satisfy three conditions:

It should be a collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs (doctrines) which they regard as conductive to their spiritual well-being.

It should have a common organization.

It should be designated by a distinctive name.


Freedom from Taxation for Promotion of a Religion [Article 27]

Article 27 lays down that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.

This provision prohibits the State from favouring, patronising and supporting one religion over the other.

This means that the taxes can be used for the promotion or maintenance of all religions.

This provision prohibits only levy of a tax and not a fee.


Freedom from Attending Religious Instruction [Article 28]

Under Article 28, no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.

However, this provision shall not apply to an educational institution administered by the State but established under any endowment or trust, requiring imparting of religious instruction in such institution.

Thus, Article 28 distinguishes between four types of educational institutions:

(a) Institutions wholly maintained by the State.

(b) Institutions administered by the State but established under any endowment or trust.

(c) Institutions recognised by the State.

(d) Institutions receiving aid from the State.

In (a) religious instruction is completely prohibited while in (b), religious instruction is permitted.

In (c) and (d), religious instruction is permitted on a voluntary basis.