(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

Draft Article 19 (Article 25 of the Constitution of India, 1950) was introduced and debated in the Constituent Assembly on the 3rd and 6th of December 1948. The Assembly was broadly in agreement over the ‘profess’ and ‘practice’ aspects of the Article. However, propagation of religion as provided for in article triggered vigorous debate and split the house. Members argued that the constitution should not encourage the propagation of religion and that this would lead to conversions. Conversion be it voluntary or forced, was not something that the members found desirable. Other members opposed this view and argued that propagation of religion, far from being undesirable, could help spread spiritual values among the massed. They also added that conflicts in society take place only when conversions are forced and that problems crop up when people misinterpret religion. At the end of debate, the Assembly adopted the Article with some minor changes. The controversial aspects of the article were retained.