Freedom of religion not a right to convert: Basics Explained

The Centre told the Supreme Court it is contemplating measures to curb the “menace” of conversion through “force, fraud, allurement and deception”, while arguing that the “right to freedom of religion does not confer a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion”.                   

The government said the word “propagate” in Article 25 of the Constitution was debated in great detail in the Constituent Assembly and the inclusion of the word was preceded by a clarification that the fundamental right under Article 25 would not include the right to convert.


The constitution of India provides for the right to freedom of religion under Articles 25 to Article 28.

The Constitution of India envisages a secular model and provides that every person has the right and freedom to choose and practice his or her religion. , In the Kesavananda Bharati case the Apex Court has held that secularism is the basic structure of the Constitution. In 1976 the 42nd Amendment Act  the word ‘Secular’ was added to the Preamble.

Article 25:

               Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

Freedom of conscience is meaningful only if and when the expression of religious belief is allowed both in word and action

Freedom to profess religion means the right of the believer to give expression to their belief in public.

Freedom to practice religion means conveying one’s belief to another and to persuade them to subscribe to it. It does not, however, amount to forcible or coercive conversion.

Article 26:

Freedom to manage religious affairs  

to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes,

  •  to manage its own affairs in matters of religion,
  •  to own and acquire movable and immovable property, and
  •   to administer such property in accordance with law

Article 27:

Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion

Article 28:

Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

So, Article 28 distinguishes between four types of educational institutions which are as follows:

  • Institutions wholly maintained by the state.
  • Institutions administered by the state but established under any endowment or trust.
  • Institutions recognised by the state.
  • Institutions receiving aid from the state.

In the first kind, religious instruction is completely prohibited,

while in the second kind, religious instruction is permitted. In the third and fourth kinds of educational institutions, religious instruction is permitted on a voluntary basis.

Religious liberty is subject to public order,morality and health.


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