‘Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion – No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination’.
Gupta Singh viewed the Draft Article with contempt and saw it as continuing the ‘innumerable atrocities that have been perpetuated in India in the name of religion’. He felt that the very idea of religious institutions holding property was one that was detrimental to India’s secular aspirations. For Singh, the State – which represented the people - was above all gods and hence had the right to tax any type of property – religious or otherwise. Finally, he argued this Article would be used as a loophole by capitalists and zamindars, they would donate property to religious institutions to avoid paying taxes.
Singh was making a strawman argument against the Draft Article – he seemed to have misunderstood the provision. The Draft Article was not about exempting religious property from taxation. Instead, it only stated that the State could not collect taxes to pay for expenses related to the maintenance or promotion of any religion or religious denomination.
Ananthasayanm Ayyangar in his speech, without overtly responding to Singh, clarified what the Article was about and the motivations behind it. He pointed out moments in Indian history where kings often collected a special tax whose sole purpose was to support a particular religion. This kind of use of public tax money in the service of a particular religion, Ayyangar continued, had no place in a secular India.
Overall, the debate was rather brief and there was no substantive opposition to the Draft Article. It seemed like there was considerable consensus over provision's utility. The Assembly adopted Draft Article with no amendment.
However, later on, in the revised Draft Constitution, 1949, the Drat Article was tweaked to ensure clarity: the heading was changed to ‘Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion and maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination’, and ‘shall’ replaced ‘may’.