People are free to choose religion: SC



  • The Supreme Court said people are free to choose their religion, even as it lashed out at a “very, very harmful kind” of “public interest” petition claiming there is mass religious conversion happening “by hook or by crook” across the country. 
  • The bench suggested the people have a right under the Constitution to profess, practice and propagate religion

An Imporant segment of the fundamental right to privacy 

  • Justice Nariman reminded the petitioner-advocate of the fundamental right under Article 25 of the Constitution to freely profess, practise and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality and health. 
  • Religious conversion is being done through a “carrot-and-stick” approach, the petitioner had claimed in his petition. 
  • SC said every person is the final judge of his/her choice of religion or who their life partner should be. 
  • Courts cannot sit in judgment of a person‟s choice of religion or life partner. Religious faith is a part of the fundamental right to privacy. 
  • Justice Nariman reminded petitioner-advocate of the Constitution Bench judgment which upheld inviolability of the right to privacy, equating it with the rights to life, of dignity and liberty. 
  • The petition was dismissed as withdrawn. His pleas to approach the Law Commission or the High Court with the petition was not expressly allowed by the Bench. 

 What are the Petitioner’s demand 

  • The petition alleged that the court should direct the Centre and the States to control black magic, superstition and religious conversion being done through threats, intimidation or bribes. 
  •  There is not even one district which is free of black magic, superstition and religious conversion. 
  •  Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, luring through gifts and monetary benefits. 


Right to Freedom of Religion

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

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

The implications of this are: 

  • Freedom of conscience: Inner freedom of an individual to mould his relation with God or Creatures in whatever way he desires. 
  • Right to Profess: Declaration of one‟s religious beliefs and faith openly and freely. 
  • Right to Practice: Performance of religious worship, rituals, ceremonies and exhibition of beliefs and ideas. 
  • Right to Propagate: Transmission and dissemination of one‟s religious beliefs to others or exposition of the tenets of one‟s religion. 

Outreach of the article 

  • Article 25 covers religious beliefs (doctrines) as well as religious practices (rituals). 
  • Moreover, these rights are available to all persons—citizens as well as non-citizens. 

Restrictions imposed 

  • These rights are subject to public order, morality, health and other provisions relating to fundamental rights. 
  • The State is permitted to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity associated with religious practice. 

Article 21: Protection of Life and Property 

  • It declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. 
  • This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens. 





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