THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY PRANAV MUNDRA A STUDENT OF TAMIL NADU NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL
“When religions coexist, leaders communicate, media respect neutrality, laws not blinded by immunity, and citizens’ needs take precedence over profitability – peace becomes reality, world lives in harmony. -Kolki
Nearly 70 years after the Independence, the problem of religious gaps due to the religious personal laws, sometimes unlawful interference in the religious matter, practices, reservation on the basis of religion, caste persist in our country still after many efforts by the courts, government and also other administrative authorities. This is because there is lack of peace, understanding between the different religions in our secular country, and also between the state and religion. Our constitution has given certain rules and regulations in order to maintain peace between the religions by abolishing the wall-separation model but the constitution itself has certain drawbacks. However, if sometimes the court interferes in these religious matters in order to maintain peace but some scholars criticised by giving this intervention a name of judicial activism.
Peace: peace is the sign of good order, harmony and obedience to the laws among all the members of the society whereas religion isa particular system of faith and worship, so if we combine these two words religion can be a system of faith and worship only if there exist a good order and harmony among the people. This can be done by giving respect to each religion. Therefore religion is in need of on peace.
Indian is a secular country where there exists various religions including Hinduism, Christians, Muslims, and Parsis etc. and so on. Since India is a democratic country everyone has right to practice their religion according to their wish, as enshrined as fundamental right under Article 25 of Indian Constitution. Since fundamental right constitutes the basic structure of our Indian Constitution, so anything against it must be declared unconstitutional. In order to maintain the stability and proper functioning of the country, a country must have a strong understanding between the needs of each religion moreover it is the duty of state to give respect to each religion in order to maintain peace, sanctity and coordination amongst numerous religions.
Without peace a religion can’t go smoothly both in Inter religion as well as intrareligion. Let’s take the present example of Beef ban issue, Muslims are opposing beef ban whereas Hindus are supporting beef ban, as both of these religions has separate view over it. But it is finally the state to maintain peace and coordination between these two religions in order to avoid further chaos, riots etc., since these issue didn’t got the proper attention by the state it led to the situation of intolerance, this situation raised as state didn’t maintained a proper peace among the religions. The importance of peace in religions is same as the importance of petrol in running a vehicle, as without a petrol a vehicle cannot run, same as without peace a religion can’t exist especially in every secular country. Religion has always being a ground of crime in our country as people doesn’t have patience, coordination among them.
Most of our country’s founder took into consideration religious beliefs, yet the irony is that they want a non-oppressive society, however it is not possible, as a minority religious will always be put down by majority religious class, as they automatically become the upper hand over the minorities. However the countries provides special affirmative rights to these minorities class as Indian constitution provides under article 29 and 30. This somehow bring this minority religious classes with the Majority religious class. In addition to avoid separated society these founders established the separation of church, mosque, temples so that it would tolerate the state religion. To avoid these feeling of separation everyone has given Equal status by our Indian constitution under Article 14. Therefore, there will be no “second class” status on this basis. However, these constitutional articles are not clear within themselves as they are subjected to varying interpretations.
However, to an extent Indian courts and government are able to maintain a non-oppressive society as our nation’s founder wanted. They did this by giving proper, equal treatment to each religion irrespective of their demographic information. The main aim in order to create a non-oppressive society is to maintain synchronization, sanctity and peace of each religion. Also it is the duty as well as the function of the state to respect all the religion. However, every religious person should also respect the other religion, state with its own religion.
DUTY AND FUNCTION OF STATE:
The Indian constitution and other related laws safeguards the religious freedom, that are practically in practice, it is generally the duty of the government to respect each religious freedom, however some state based laws restrict this religious freedom, India is secular and republic country in which all religions are given equality before law.According to 2001 census, the country has total population about 1.15 billion. In which Hindus are around 80.5 % of the population, Muslims were 13.4 percent, Christians were 2.3 % and Sikhs were 1.9%, and groups that constitute less than 1.1% which includes Buddhists, Jains and Parsis.In Muslim religion around 85% of Muslims are Sunni, the remaining are Shia.
There majority of Muslim populations are in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir. Even though Muslims are just around 11% in our country instead of that our country constitutes the 2nd largest Muslim populated country. Christian populations are generally found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Goa. Sikhs are a mainstream in the Punjab and Haryana. And Under the 1992 National Commission for Minorities Act, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims and Parsis were given the status of minority communities.
This shows that India is a secular country, different religions has majority in different states and it is the duty and function of the state to work for the welfare of the people and give equality to every religion. It is also the duty of state to maintain proper coordination among religions and this can only be done by giving proper respect to each religion and this can only be ensured if there is peace and coordination is being maintained.
COURTS VIEW OVER RELIGION AND PEACE
In order to maintain peace with in religion and between religions there must be an authoritative body to take a final decision if any conflict arises. This authoritative body in India are courts who takes the final decision and is binding upon the parties to the such suit. However India is not like France which is also a secular country, in France state and courts has full interference over the religion, while religions can’t raise their voice against state, unlike USA also where there is full independence is given to state and religion i.e. religion will not interfere in working of state and vice versa. However, unlike France and USA, Indian courts and state has a partial control over the religion, and court can exercise it power only when religions disturbs the peace of a country or goes against other religion.
The main problem that sometimes arises is that sometimes there is conflict with in religion between different castes. For instance, in Hindu religion there exist various castes such as Brahmin, Kshatriyas, Vaishya etc. and many times conflicts arises between them. So, in order to maintain intra religion peace the court also interferes and decides the conflict.
In N Aditya v. TranvancoreDewaswom Board the court held that Brahmins do not have monopoly over performing puja in a temple and said that a non-Brahmin can be appointed if he is properly appointed as a pujari if he is properly trained and well vested with rituals. Here the conflict arises between Hindus only, so in order to maintain peace with in religion the court acted as an authoritative body, whose decision was binding.
According to Article 25 of Indian Constitution which gives the right to practise any religion, any tradition but it must not go against the peace, national interest and equality of the people. If it goes than the court can grant injunction or stay over such practise. However now it has wider scope i.e. the interpretation of Article 25 is much widespread, i.e. the court can interfere in any matter of the religion except those which are the essentials of a particular religion, i.e. reading Nawaz for Muslims, bible for Christian etc. courts cannot interfere in these matters as they are now considered as an integral part of the religion. While Babri Mosque issue was going on,
A case Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India, the court has a majority opinion that the court and state can exercise its sovereign power and can acquire places of worship like Mosque, temples, church etc., as state has power under Article 300-A of Indian Constitution to take necessary step in order to maintain peace, law and order. It was raised that it violates Article 25 and Article 26 of Indian constitution but the court held that place of worship is not a integral part of a religion, offering of prayers is an integral part of religion, so in order maintain peace and order the state has right to cease the temple, mosque etc. and the court has jurisdiction over it.
Also in A.S. Narayana v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Vaishno Devi Shrine cases the Supreme Court has clearly defined the role of the state in the manner of religion.
Also in Gulam Kadar Ahmadbhai Menon v. Surat municipal Corporationthe Gujarat high court held that, the right to religion guaranteed under Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution does not prohibit the state to acquire any place of worship, as state can do this in order maintain peace between the religion and also among the people.
In MaulanaMufti SayeedMohd. NoorurRehmanBarkariq v. State of West Bengal, the Calcutta high court gave its verdict stating that microphone and loudspeakers are not the integral part of the religion. This shows that court can interfere in order to maintain peace in the society which is being caused by the activities of a particular religion.
In a significant judgement of Church of God in India v. K.K.R.M.C. welfare association, the Supreme Court held that in the exercise of the right to religious freedom under Article 25 and 26, no person can be allowed to create noise pollution or any nuisance or disturb the peace of others.
In Om Prakash vs state of U.P, in this case the court banned the selling of eggs in Haridwar, as it is a religious place for hindus and hurts the sentiments of hindu religion and hence in order to maintain peace and order the court banned the use of eggs.
From these cases it is clear that state and courts can interfere in the matters of religion where it creates noise or nuisance, where there is conflict between religions, where religious affairs effects the peace of the people or country, where it is against national interest and which is not considered as an integral part of a religion the state has power to cease the worship places in order to maintain peace and order. Moreover the court can also interfere if state breaches the fundamental right of an Individual.
To conclude, in country like India i.e. a secular country in which their exist numerous religions, and in order to maintain such a big country the biggest thing is to maintain peace and order, and this can only exist if there is a limited necessary interference by the state and the courts. India is a secular country in which the religion are kept on top i.e the respect between the religionsmust be there.
“We must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools.”
-Martin Luther king
From “Saying of Kolki,” at: http://www.kolki.com/ last accessed on 25/02/2016,15:30
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/171754.pdf last accessed on 05/03/2016 at 20:30
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