Decided on November 08,1982

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.) I have the good fortune of having before me the scholarly judgment of my brother Misra, J. I agree with my brother Misra, J. that the Writ Petition must fail. With much that he has said, also, I agree. But with a little, to my own lasting regret,i do not agree. It is, therefore, proper for me to explain the points of my disagreement.
(2.) Quite a considerable part of the hearing of the petitions was devoted to a debate on the question, what is Religion Religion: Everyone has a religion, or at least, a view or a window on religion, be he a bigot or simple believer, philosopher or pedestrain, atheist or agnostic. Religion, like 'democracy' and 'equality is an elusive expression, which everyone understands according to his preconceptions. What is religion to some is pure dogma to. others and what is religion to others is pure superstition to some others. Karl Marx in his contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law described religion as the 'opium of the people'. He said further, "basically religion is a very convenient sanctuary for bourgeois thought to flee to in times of stress". Bertrand Russell, in his easy ' ' Why I am not a Christian", said, "religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It ii partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother, who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty,and, therefore, it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. As a worshipper at the altar of peace, I find it difficult to reconcile myself to religion, which throughout the ages, has justified war calling it adharmayuddha, and jehad or a crusade. I believe that by getting mixed up with religion, ethics has lost 'much of its point, much of its purpose and a major portion of its spontaneity. " I apprehend I share the views of those who have neither faith nor belief in religion and who consider religion as entirely unscientific and irrational. Chanting of prayer appears to me to be mere jingoism and observance of ritual, plain superstition. But my views about religion, my prejudices and my predilections, if they be such, are entirely irrelevant. So are the views of the credulous, the fanatic, the bigot and the zealot. So also the views of the faithful, the devout, the acharya, the moulvi, the padre and the bhikshu each of whom may claim his as the only true or revealed religion. For our present purpose, we are concerned with what the people of the Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic of India, who have given each, of its citizens freedom of concience and the right to freely profess,practise and. propagate religion and who have given every religious denomination the right to freely manage its religious affairs, mean by the expressions 'religion' and 'religious denomination. We are concerned with what these expressions are. designed to mean in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. Any freedom or right involving the conscience must naturally receive a wide interpretation and the expression 'religion' and 'religious denomination' must therefore, be interpreted in no narrow, stifling sense but in a liberal, expansive way.
(3.) Etymology is of no avail. Religion is derived from 'religare' which means "to bind". Etymologically, therefore, every bond between two people ii a religion, but that is ' not true. To say so. is only to indulge in etymological deception. Quite obviously, religion is much more than a mere bond uniting people.;

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