CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION NO.139 OF 2010
2. Kishore Ramakant Nazare, and )
3. Subhash Suryakant Ranaware. )..
1.The Union of India, and )
2.The State of Maharashtra.)..
Shri Surel S. Shah for the Petitioners.
Shri Parag Vyas for Respondent No.1.
Shri S.N. Patil, AGP for Respondent No.2.
CORAM : A.S. OKA & A.S.CHANDURKAR, JJ
DATE ON WHICH JUDGMENT IS PRONOUNCED: 23RD SEPTEMBER 2014
( Signed judgment pronounced by Shri A.S. Oka, J in accordance with Rule 1 (i) of Chapter XI of the Appellate Side Rules as Shri A.S. Chandurkar, J is not available in Bombay and is sitting at Nagpur Bench.)
“(A) That this Honorable Court be pleased to issue writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ order or direction thereby directing the respondents to recognize “No Religion” as a form of religion and not to insist on writing/mentioning/specifying/ quoting religion in any of its forms or declarations”.
2 AIR 1983 SC 1
“25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. (2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice; (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
“14. Article 25, as its language amplifies, assures to every person subject to public order, health and morality, freedom not only to entertain his religious beliefs, as may be approved of by his judgment and conscience, but also to exhibit his belief in such outwardly act as he thinks proper and to propagate or disseminate his ideas for the edification of others.“
“76. The full concept and scope of religious freedom is that there are no restraints upon the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of one’s conscience or upon the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion, save those imposed under the police power of the State and the other provisions of Part III of the Constitution. This means the right to worship God according to the dictates of one’s conscience. Man’s relation to his God is made no concern of the State. Freedom of conscience and religious belief cannot, however, be set up to avoid those duties which every citizen owes to the nation e.g. to receive military training, to take an oath expressing willingness to perform military service and so on.
5 (2004)12 SCC 770 at page 802
77. Though the freedom of conscience and religious belief are absolute, the right to act in exercise of a man’s freedom of conscience and freedom of religion cannot override public interest and morals of the society and in that view it is competent for the State to suppress such religious activities which are prejudicial to public interest”. ( Emphasis added )
Constitution of India or any of its agency or instrumentality can infringe the fundamental right to freedom of conscience. Any individual in exercise of right of freedom of conscience is entitled to carry an opinion and express an opinion that he does not follow any religion or any religious tenet. He has right to say that he does not believe in any religion. Therefore, if he is called upon by any agency or instrumentality of the State to disclose his religion, he can always state that he does not practice any religion or he does not belong to any religion. He cannot to be compelled to state that he professes a particular religion.
( A.S. OKA, J )