Explain the Fundamental Right-Right to Freedom of Religion(Article-26).

Explain the Fundamental Right-Right to Freedom of Religion(Article-26).

Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs.

May 25, 2019.

The Fundamental Rights are enshrined in part III of the Constitution from Articles 12 to 35. In this regard, the framers of the Constitution derived inspiration from the Constitution of the USA. Part III of the Constitution is rightly described as the Magna Carta of India. It contains a very long and comprehensive list of ‘Justiciable’ Fundamental Rights. In fact, the Fundamental Rights in our Constitution are more elaborate than those found in the Constitution of any other country in the World, including the USA. The Fundamental Rights are meant for promoting the ideal of political democracy.

According to Article 26, every religious denomination or any of its section shall have the following rights: (a) Right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) Right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; (c) Right to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and (d) Right to administer such property in accordance with law.

Article 25 guarantees rights of individuals, while Article 26 guanantees rights of religious denominations or their sections. In other words, Article 26 protects collective freedom of religion. Like the rights under Article 25, the rights under Article 26 are also subject to public order, morality and health but not subject to other provisions relating to the Fundamental Rights.

The Supreme Court held that a religious denomination must satisfy three conditions: (a) It should be a collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs (doctrines) which they regard as conductive to their spiritual well-being; (b) It should have a common organisation; and (c) It should be designated by a distinctive name.

Under the above criteria, the Supreme Court held that the ‘Ramakrishna Mission’ and ‘Ananda Marga’ are religious denominations within the Hindu religion. It also held that Aurobindo Society is not a religious denomination.

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