Not a holy book
Mains Paper: 1 | Society
Prelims level: Sabarimala Temple
Mains level: Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Religion has not only been an indispensable part of
human existence, but it is an also ineffaceable part of our lives.
For former President S Radhakrishnan, religion was “a code
of ethical rules and that the rituals, observances, ceremonies and modes of
worship are its outer manifestations”.
Religions are nothing but the submission to some higher or
Accordingly, even the US, despite its wall of separation
between church and state is rightly termed as a “nation with the soul of [a]
Moreover, religions are exclusionary and discriminatory.
Rising the conflict
The Sabarimala protests against the Supreme Court
judgment, though deplorable are thus neither novel nor surprising.
What is surprising is the Court’s over-indulgence in
purely religious matters in the name of constitutional morality and its
enthusiasm in reforming religions.
Reforms are a must, but top-down reforms are always
Abraham Lincoln in 1838 urged Americans to consciously
adherence to the “political religion of the nation”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself said in 2014 that
only the holy book for him is the Constitution of India.
Questioning to the constitution morality?
Everyone makes a religiously loaded statement while
“swearing” by the Constitution expressing full “faith” in the judiciary.
Is not “faith” another name for religion?
Our courts are called “temples of justice” and the Supreme
Court’s own seal says Yato Dharmasto Jayah (where there is Dharma , there is
“Dharma” and “law” were used as synonyms in Hindu religion
and our apex court too treats them as the same.
Are not our Supreme Court judges trying to bring in a new
civil religion in the name of constitutional morality?
A “constitutional renaissance” can bring about heaven on
earth with the true realisation of justice, liberty, equality and even of
Like priests, they alone have the authority to tell us the
meaning of the sacred text.
Many a time, these lords indeed saved our democracy from
authoritarianism and just like god.
Should religions be subjected to constitutional morality
Rationality and religious beliefs do not go together and
the Constitution protects these beliefs.
In the Preamble itself, our Constitution guarantees
“liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”.
Article 26 gives autonomy to every religious
denomination or any section thereof “in matters of religion”, subject to
public order, health and morality.
In interpreting these articles, the Supreme Court had said
that every religious practice will not be constitutionally protected.
In the process, it ignored the fact that privileging one
practice over another is not right.
Moreover, in Ismail Farooqi (1994), the Court further
restricted religious freedom by adding new conditions through new doctrines of
“peculiar significance of religious practice” and insisting on “comparative
examination of religious practice under different religions”.
It is not the judiciary’s job to reform religions.
The Sabarimala protests and politicisation of the issue is
yet another reminder that we should tread cautiously while dealing with purely
The supremacy of the Constitution need not be converted
into an idolatry of the law.
Constitutional morality is a laudable goal but we are not
yet ready for it.
Despite Constitution’s text, on the ground, neither does
freedom of religion mean “freedom from religion” nor does it include — at least
for our women — “freedom within religion”
Q.1) Consider the following statements:
1. Right to establish and maintain institutions for religious
purpose is enjoyed by religious minorities only.
2. Right to conserve language, script or culture is enjoyed by religious and
linguistic minorities only.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1) Should religions be subjected to constitutional morality and rationality?
Give your arguments in the context of Sabarimala Temple consequences by the SCs.