I was born on 5th February. This is Article No. 502.
This blog was born on 21st December, 2014.
Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman in The Sabarimala Temple Case, before answering the question posed, thought it is necessary to cover the ground that has been covered by previous decisions of the SC on the scope and effect of religious freedom contained in Articles 25 and 26.
I highlight hereby all the decisions mentioned. I bow down to: i) every religion, ii) every religious thought, body, centre and iii) My Lords, beyond my intelligence and vision.
I have no faith in Supreme Court Judges pronouncing on matters as mentioned below. Of course, there will be a Chief Justice of India, Justice Ray and there shall be a Justice Indu Malhotra. However, even they tread difficult roads, unnecessary for them to tread. There must a separate Supreme Court with Judges who are born to protect and propagate religion.
Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman in The Sabarimala Temple Case
In one of the Earliest Judgments dealing with religious freedom, namely, Nar Hari Sastri, 1952 SCR 849 this Court was concerned with The Temple at Badrinath. In chronological sequence, next comes The Celebrated Shirur Math Case, viz., The Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, 1954 SCR 1005. Close on the heels of this Judgment, followed the Judgment in Ratilal Panachand Gandhi, 1954 SCR 1055. We now come to The Famous Mulki Temple Case. In this Judgment, namely, Sri Venkataramana Devaru, 1958 SCR 895 an Ancient Temple dedicated to Sri Venkataramana, renowned for its sanctity, was before the Court in a challenge to The Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Act (V of 1947). In Durgah Committee, Ajmer, (1962) 1 SCR 383 this Court was faced with a challenge to the vires of The Durgah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955. In Sardar Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb, 1962 Supp. (2) SCR 496 this Court struck down The Bombay Prevention of Excommunication Act, 1949, with Chief Justice Sinha dissenting. In Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji Maharaj, (1964) 1 SCR 561 otherwise referred to as The Nathdwara Temple Case, this Court was concerned with the validity of The Nathdwara Temple Act, 1959.
In Seshammal, (1972) 2 SCC 11 the validity of The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Act, 1970 was questioned by Hereditary Archakas and Mathadhipatis of Some Ancient Temples of Tamil Nadu, as The Amendment Act did away with the Hereditary Right of Succession to the Office of Archaka even if the Archaka was otherwise qualified.
We now come to a very important Judgment contained in Rev. Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors., (1977) 2 SCR 611. The Judgment dealt with the Constitutional Validity of The Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968 and The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, both of which statutes were upheld by the Court stating that they fall within the exception of “public order” as both of them prohibit conversion from one religion to another by use of force, allurement, or other fraudulent means. In an instructive passage, this Court turned down the argument that the word ‘propagate’ in Article 25(1) would include conversion. The Court held:
“We have no doubt that it is in this sense that the word ‘propagate’ has been used in Article 25(1), for what the Article grants is not the right to convert another person to one’s own religion, but to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets. It has to be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees “freedom of conscience” to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion, and that, in turn, postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one‘s own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the “freedom of conscience” guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike.
The meaning of guarantee under Article 25 of the Constitution came up for consideration in this Court in Ratilal Panachand Gandhi v. The State of Bombay & Ors. [1954 SCR 1055, 1062-63] and it was held as follows:
“Thus, subject to the restrictions which this Article imposes, every person has a fundamental right under our Constitution not merely to entertain such religious belief as may be approved of by his judgment or conscience but to exhibit his belief and ideas in such overt acts as are enjoined or sanctioned by his religion and further to propagate his religious views for the edification of others.”
This Court has given the correct meaning of the Article, and we find no justification for the view that it grants a fundamental right to convert persons to one’s own religion. It has to be appreciated that the freedom of religion enshrined in the Article is not guaranteed in respect of one religion only, but covers all religions alike, and it can be properly enjoyed by a person if he exercises his right in a manner commensurate with the like freedom of persons following the other religions. What is freedom for one, is freedom for the other, in equal measure, and there can therefore be no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one’s own religion.” (at pp. 616-617)
In S.P. Mittal, (1983) 1 SCC 51 this Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of The Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1980. We then come to Acharya Jagdishwaranand Avadhuta, (1983) 4 SCC 522. This Judgment concerned itself with whether “Ananda Marga” is a separate religious denomination. In Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, (1997) 4 SCC 606 this Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of The Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983. In Travancore Devaswom Board, (2002) 8 SCC 106 this Court held the appointment of a person who is not a Malayala Brahmin as a Pujari or Priest of a Temple in Kerala as Constitutionally Valid. In Dr. Subramanian Swamy, (2014) 5 SCC 75 this Court dealt with the claim by Podhu Dikshitars (Smarthi Brahmins) to administer the properties of A Temple Dedicated to Lord Natraja at The Sri Sabanayagar Temple at Chidambaram. In Riju Prasad Sarma, (2015) 9 SCC 461 this Court dealt with customs based on religious faith which dealt with Families of Priests of a Temple called The Maa Kamakhya Temple. In Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam, (2016) 2 SCC 725 this Court was concerned with a Government Order issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which stated that any person who is a Hindu and possesses the requisite qualification and training, can be appointed as an Archaka in Hindu Temples.
A conspectus of these Judgments, therefore, leads to… propositions.
Rev. Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1977) 2 SCR 611, cited by Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, considered important and instructive, was Chief Justice Ray’s words. I bow down further.