India is a secular country where the Constitution doesn’t support any religion but respects every religion. India is home to different religions. Citizens of India are free to practice any religion they want to. State will not support any religion or encourages any religion. The Preamble of the Constitution of India starts with the words “ WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECUALAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC….”. The inclusion of the word ‘secular’ means the Constitution is guaranteeing the citizens of India to practice the religion they want to. It also includes the right to carry out procession under article 19 (1) (b). And along with the freedom to practice any religion and freedom to carryout procession there are also certain restriction which restricts this freedom so as to prevent the misuse of this freedom. This current paper will discuss about the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution- right to carryout procession in detail.
RIGHT TO PRACTICE RELIGION:
Constitution of India through Article 25 guarantees that every citizen if free to practice and propagate any religion. They have the freedom to profess any religion. This includes conducting and participating in ceremonies peacefully, yatras etc. Article 19 (1) (b) guarantees right to assembly peacefully without arms to every citizen of India. This right also includes right to carryout processions. But carrying out a religious procession is not an easy task. This includes various permissions to be taken. Carrying out a religious procession is a very widely discussed topic. Because India is a home to different religions and religious procession of every religion can be carried. So it requires prior permissions to be taken before carrying out a religious procession.
RIGHT TO CARRYOUT A RELIGIOUS PROCESSION:
As previously mentioned to carry a religious procession prior permissions has to be taken. This includes permission for local police, so that they can ensure the fundamental rights of the individuals are not violated and they prevent violent acts. If prior permission is taken from the required authorities then no individual can stop that religious procession. If after the commencement of the procession the police had found out that the religious procession is disorder and violent then they can discontinue or stop that religious procession. And this right like all other fundamental rights can be restricted on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of the country or public order. In the case of Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra, it was observed by the Court that “The right of citizens to take out processions or to hold public meetings flow from the right in Article 19 (1) (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms and the right to move anywhere in the territory of India”
Gujarat High Court has held that taking out a peaceful procession is a fundamental right. So as long as the procession is peaceful, and without arms, and prior permissions have been taken to conduct the religious procession no authority can stop it.
Certain freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution of India to the citizens. And to prevent the misuse of the freedom certain restrictions are also laid down by the Constitution. One of those freedoms is to conduct or participate in religious processions. And the restriction related to this freedom is that such religious procession must be peaceful and unarmed. And such procession should not disturb the public order or bring any threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country. According to me such freedom is granted to the people because India is home to many religions. And the Constitution is secular in nature, and cannot support any religion but respects every religion. So people are free to practice any religion according to article 25 of the Constitution of India. So in order to respect the people’s choice in terms of the religion such freedom is granted to the citizens. In a way this freedom reflects the main intention of the Constitution that it is secular in nature. As many people believe in religion and ceremonies revolving it at different occasions such freedom should be guaranteed by the Constitution.
i. Sanjay Pinto, Justice for all: Processions: Permission is norm, rejection exception, Deccan Chronicle, February 22, 2020, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/220220/justice-for-all-processions-permission-is-norm-rejection-exception.html
ii. Pathikrit Chakraborty & Prafulla Marpakwar, Organizer’s Affidavit must for religious processions: UP CM, Times of India, April 19, 2022, https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/taking-out-peaceful-procession-is-fundamental-right-gujarat-hc-32438.html
iii. Taking out peaceful procession is fundamental right: Gujarat HC, India TV News, January 14, 2014, https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/taking-out-peaceful-procession-is-fundamental-right-gujarat-hc-32438.html
iv. A G Noorani, A Procession had right on road not on assembly, Deccan Chronicle, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/opinion/op-ed/170618/a-procession-has-a-right-on-road-not-assembly.html
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