Religious Freedom In India – No Religion is Valid
For last few weeks I have been debating about the religious freedom in India. Even-though its one of fundamental rights. I had my own questions about it. One also doesn't know about the rights until it gets challenged in the court of law. This week a set of people asked themselves to be free of religious association. They wanted to be part of "No Religion". A government gazette refused carry out this notification saying "No Religion" is invalid and hence they sought Bombay High court's help.
The whole case was based upon "Right to Freedom of Religion". I didn't know the word 'conscience' would play a major role in the judgement. Court favored citizen and said "No Religion" is valid and went onto say none can compel you choose/quote a religion. I think its one of the best judgements that I have read in recent times. I have quote a paragraph below. It gives you the gist.
India is a secular democratic republic. The State has no religion. There is a complete freedom for every individual to decide whether he wants to adopt or profess any religion or not. He may not believe in any religion. If he is professing a particular religion, he can give up the religion and claim that he does not belong to any religion. There is no law which compels a citizen or any individual to have a religion. The freedom of conscience conferred by the Constitution includes a right not to profess, practice or propagate any religion.
The right of freedom of conscience conferred on a citizen includes a right to openly say that he does not believe in any religion and, therefore, he does not want to practice, profess or propagate any religion. If the parents of a citizen practice any particular religion, he has a freedom of conscience to say that he will not practice any religion. There is a freedom to act as per his conscience in such matters.
So next time when you are filling up a form you can either enter a religion or leave it blank or enter "No Religion". Its left to you and none can force you to choose.