Religious, Cultural and Environmental Rights
The Article 25 to 30 of our constitution contain religious, cultural or educational rights which promotes free dissemination of religious beliefs or values . The concern of minorities on basis of culture or religion or language as case may be are duly considered under this part of our constitution.
- Every person in India has freedom of conscience and right to profess, practice and propagate (preach or disseminate) any religion. This right is available for all persons – citizens and non citizens.
- But it doesn’t include right to convert another person into its own religion either by coercion or agreement of doing any favour to accept particular religion or religious belief.
- But State can impose restrictions on this religious right in interest of public order, morality, health and other provisions relating to Fundamental rights such as ban on Sati Pratha or Pardah System etc.
Article 26 (Protection of Religious Institutions)
- Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs – The religious denomination has right to form institutions, own movable/immovable property and manage its own affairs. This is also subjected to public order, morality, and health but not subjected to provisions of other fundamental rights.
- The SC held that a religious denomination shall satisfy conditions such as collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs towards spiritual well being, distinctive name etc.
- Freedom from Taxation – no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes for promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.
- Also this article prohibits State to favour or promote any particular religion over another. It means state can’t spend public money (taxes etc.) to promote a particular religion but for promotion of all religions can be used.
- This article prohibits only levy of tax not levying of fee but purpose shall be subjected to control secular administration of religious institutions. Such as reasonable fee can be levied on pilgrims to provide better services or safety measures.
- No religious instructions shall be provided in any educational institution wholly owned by state funds. Also no person shall be compelled to attend religious instructions in any institution either aided or recognized by state.
- Protection of Interest of Minorities – any section of the citizens in any part of country has right to preserve its culture, language or state can’t impose any culture other than their own culture.
- The SC held that connotation of article 29 is not limited to protection of culture of minorities only but include majority population also.
- The minorities have right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Also State shall not discriminate with any minority institution while granting aid. It includes both religious and linguistic minorities.
- It includes the right to impart education to its children in their own language, beliefs etc. to promote or conserve their language or culture.
The right under Article 30 is not absolute as its purpose to ensure equality with majority rather than providing any advantageous position to minorities vis-a-vis majority. Also this right is subjected to reasonable regulations such as ordinary laws impose by state in public interest.