It is a paradox that while almost every religion stands for and preaches the universal brotherhood of man; religion has been a constant source of conflict in human history. India has been most unfortunate in this respect, particularly during the last thousand years of her history.

The British did not desist from exploiting this situation for their own advantage and to continue their rule in India as long as they could. We saw in the earlier part of this discussion how religion shattered the unity of the nation and how the country was partitioned on a religious basis.

Yet the problem of religious minorities in independent India was not solved and remained as difficult as ever. Despite the creation of Pakistan, there were more than forty million Muslims in India scattered all over the country. There were, in addition, some ten million Christians, five million Sikhs and considerable numbers of Parsees, Jains, Buddhists and Jews.

Those who professed the Hindu religion formed an overwhelming majority, some 85 per cent of the total population. If they chose to act together as a religious group in representative institutions, they could pass any law they liked and have absolute control over the governmental machinery in all its activities.


The slightest tendency towards such an attitude would have undermined the confidence of the religious minorities, and democracy in India might have become a label without meaning, a form without substance.

The idea of guaranteed fundamental rights itself was a device directed towards the avoidance of such a contingency. The right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to form associations and unions are also rights which guarantee religious speech and expression and the right to form religious associations and unions.

But the Constituent Assembly was not satisfied with such provisions alone in its bid to infuse complete confidence in the religious minorities. It went a step further and adopted a separate group of articles dealing solely with the right to freedom of religion. The freedoms provided in Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 are conceived in most generous terms to the complete satisfaction of religious minorities.

They were in fact the result of an agreement with the minorities, almost unanimously arrived at in the Minorities Committee constituted by the Constituent Assembly. Such unanimity created an atmosphere of harmony and confidence in the majority community.


Further, these provisions embodied in detail one of the objectives of the Constitution declared in the Preamble: “to secure to all its citizens liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”.