Meaning of Secularism
In a secular state, the government is neutral towards religion, and citizens are free to practice their own religion without interference from the state. It also means that government should not be discriminate people on the basis of their religion.
Secularism is often associated with the protection of individual rights and freedoms, such as freedom of religion, speech, and expression. It also ensures that all citizens are treated equally under the law, regardless of their religious beliefs.
In practice, secularism can take many forms. Some countries, such as France and the United States, have a strict separation of religion and state, while other countries, such as the United Kingdom and India, have a more relaxed approach.
It’s important to note that secularism does not mean the absence of religion from public life, but rather the neutrality and impartiality of the state towards different religions.
Origin of concept of secularism in India
During the drafting of the Indian Constitution, several members of the Constituent Assembly, including India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, emphasized the importance of a secular state. Nehru believed that a secular state was necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities and to promote national unity.
Furthermore, the Indian National Congress, the main political party at the time of independence, also supported the idea of a secular state. The party’s official stance was that religion should be separate from politics, and that the state should not discriminate on the basis of religion.
Therefore, in the Indian Constitution that was adopted in 1950, the framers included several provisions to ensure the secular character of the state, such as the one mentioned in my previous answer, in order to guarantee rights and freedoms for all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Secularism in Indian Constitution
Secularism is a fundamental principle of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination on the basis of religion. The Indian state is secular, meaning that it is neutral and does not promote or support any particular religion. However, the implementation of secularism in India has been a contentious issue, with some arguing that the government has not done enough to protect the rights of minority religious groups.
The Indian media is diverse and includes a wide range of perspectives, including those that support secularism and those that are critical of it. Some media outlets are considered to be more liberal and secular in their coverage, while others are considered to be more conservative and aligned with religious or nationalist ideologies.
One of the most debated topic of Indian media is of religious discrimination and mob lynching of people from minority groups. Many news platforms and media houses have been accused of promoting Hindu nationalism views and of bias in their reporting on religious minority groups, particularly Muslims. This has led to accusations that the Indian media is not sufficiently critical of the government’s handling of issues related to secularism and minority rights.
However, it is important to note that India has a free press and many journalists are working independently to report the truth of what is happening in the country and call out issues of discrimination and bias.
In short, while secularism is a fundamental principle in India, its implementation and the role of the media in covering related issues are complex and have been the subject of much debate and criticism.
Secularism in preamble of Indian Constitution
The Preamble to the Indian Constitution reflects the principles of secularism, which is the separation of religion and state, and protection of individual rights and freedoms and equality of all citizens regardless of their religious beliefs.
By the 42nd Amendment on December 18, 1976, the term “Secular” was incorporated in the Preamble.
The principles, which are included in the Preamble, reflect the basic idea of secularism, which is the protection of individual rights and freedoms, such as freedom of religion, speech, and expression and equality of all citizens regardless of their religious beliefs.
The Preamble also states that the Constitution is established to secure the “sovereignty, socialist, secular, democratic republic” which means that the state is neutral towards religion and does not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of religion.
The Indian Constitution contains several provisions that reflect the principle of secularism. Some of the key articles related to secularism in the Indian Constitution are:
- Article 14: This article guarantees equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws for all citizens, regardless of their religion.
- Article 15: This article prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
- Article 16: This article prohibits discrimination in public employment on the grounds of religion.
- Article 25: This article guarantees freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate any religion.
- Article 26: This article guarantees the right of every religious denomination or any section thereof to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
- Article 27: This article prohibits the state from imposing taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.
- Article 28: This article prohibits the state from making any law that affects the right of any religious institution to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
- Article 29: This article guarantees the right of any section of citizens to conserve their distinct language, script, or culture.
- Article 30: This article guarantees the right of minority educational institutions to administer their own affairs.
All these provisions of the Indian Constitution collectively ensure that the state remains neutral towards all religions and that it does not discriminate against any particular religion or its followers.
Leading case laws on secularism –
S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994):
This was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of India held that the Indian Constitution is fundamentally secular and that it is the duty of the state to maintain neutrality towards all religions. The court also held that it is the duty of the state to protect the rights of religious minorities and to prevent any attempt to establish a theocratic state.
AK Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950) :
This case dealt with the question of whether the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to citizens, or whether these rights are subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the state. The court held that the Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to citizens, but that these rights are subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the state.
Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973):
This case dealt with the question of whether the Indian Constitution allows for the amending of its basic structure. The court held that the Constitution allows for the amending of its provisions, but not its basic structure, which includes the principle of secularism.
S. Rangarajan v. Jagjivan Ram (1989):
This case dealt with the question of whether the Indian Constitution allows for the reservation of seats in the legislature for members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The court held that the Constitution allows for the reservation of seats for members of these groups, as long as such reservation is reasonable and does not violate the principle of secularism.
Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain (1975):
This case dealt with the question of whether the Prime Minister of India had the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha. The court held that the Prime Minister did not have this power, and that it would violate the principle of secularism if the Prime Minister could dissolve the Lok Sabha at will.