People are Free to Choose Religion: Supreme Court

What is the News?

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL seeking directions to the Centre to ban black magic, superstition, and deceitful religious conversion.

What was the case?
  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to control black magic, superstition & mass religious conversion of SC/STs. The petition also mentions the religious conversions through intimidation, threats & gifts.
  • The plea argued that such forceful religious conversions by use of black magic are common throughout the country.
  • These incidents are against Articles 14 (right to equality), 21(right to life), and 25 (right to religious freedom). Also, they are against the principles of secularism(part of the basic structure of the Constitution).
  • The plea also said that the Centre and States are obligated under Article 46 to protect the SC/ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation.
  • The petitioner also referred to the 1977 Stanislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh and Others case.
    • In this case, the Supreme Court Constitution bench explained the “word ‘propagate’ used in Article (25). The court held that it means transmitting or spreading information from person to person or from place to place.
    • Further, the court also held that the Article does not grant the right to convert another person to one’s own religion.
What has the Supreme Court said?
  • The Supreme Court refused to entertain the petition. It observed that there is no reason why a person above 18 can’t choose his religion.
  • The Court observed that the fundamental right under Article 25 provides people to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion. It is subject to public order, morality, and health.
  • Further, the court said that the Religious faith is a part of the fundamental right to privacy. Hence, every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion. Courts cannot sit in the judgment of a person’s choice of religion or a life partner.

Note: In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India(2017), the Supreme Court ruled that Fundamental Right to Privacy is intrinsic to life and liberty. Thus, it comes under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

Source: The Hindu

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