(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.

 

Explanation I.—The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.

 

Explanation II.—In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

Debate Summary

Article 19, Draft Constitution, 1948

(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.

Explanation. - The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or preclude 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) For social welfare and reform or for throwing open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to any class or section of Hindus.

 

Draft Article 19 (Article 25) was debated on 3rd and 6th December 1948. It provides for the right to religious freedom.

 

Some members were concerned that the right to propagate would facilitate forced conversions, and proposed amendments that would either remove the right to propagate altogether or limited the right to practice religion to the private domain. Others argued that forced conversions did not come within the ambit of this right; further, free propagation would also lead to public awareness about different religions, thereby promoting understanding and peace. These amendments were rejected.

 

Clause (2), which threw open Hindu religious institutions to any classes or sections of Hindus, was the subject of heated debate. One member wanted the scope of the Article to extend beyond Hindus to Buddhists, Jains and Christians. He argued that this would promote religious harmony among people following different belief systems. Although this amendment was initially rejected by the Assembly, the Drafting Committee later extended the clause to Buddhists and Jains.

 

The Draft Article was adopted with a minor amendment on 6th December 1948.