Article 26 of Indian Constitution deals with the rights of religion denomination. It guarantees to every religious denomination or a section of it the right to establish and maintain institution for religious and charitable purpose and to manage in its own way all affair in matters of religion.
Article 26 – Freedom to manage religious affairs Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right
- 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
Religious denomination. –The dictionary meaning of the word ”denomination” given in Webster is ”a collection of individuals, classed together under the same name; (now almost always) specially a religious section or body having a common faith and organisation and designated by a distinctive name”.
It has been held that a religious denomination must satisfy three conditions: common faith common organisation, and designation by distinctive name. There are several religions in India, such as Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. The members belonging to each of these religions would be a denomination,
The expression “denomination” can also be used for members forming sects Or sub-sects of a religion designated by a distinctive name. Thus, for example, in Hindu religion the followers of Ramanuja known by the name of Vaishnava, the followers of Madhawacharya and other religious teachers, will constitute denominations. Among Mohammedans, Hanfee, Shia or Chishti sects are separate denominations and Dawoodi Bohra community is a sub-sect of the Shias.
Article 26 of Indian constitution Explanation And Notes
Article 26(1) of Indian Constitution Clause 1 talks about Management of religious matters. – It confers on a religious denomination or a section of it the right to manage its own affairs in ”matters of religion”.
The expression “matters of religion” is not limited to matters of doctrines or belief it extends to acts done in pursuance of religion and, therefore, contains a guarantee for rituals and Observances, ceremonies and modes of worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion. What constitutes an essential part of religion or religious practice has to be decided by the courts with reference to doctrines of the particular religion and included as an integral part of the religion.
Accordingly, if the tenets of any religious sect of Hindus prescribe that offering of food should be made to the idol at particular hours of the day, that periodical ceremonies should be performed in a certain way at certain periods of the year or that there should be daily recital of sacred texts or oblation to the sacred fire.
All these would be regarded as parts of religion and the mere fact that they involve expenditure of money or employment of priests and servants or the use of marketable commodities would not make them secular activities partaking of a commercial or economic character; all such practices should be regarded as ”matters of religion” within the meaning of Article 26(b).
Clause C and D of Article 16 of Indian constitution
Clauses (c) and (d) of Article 26 guarantee to a religious denomination the right to acquire and own property and to administer such property in accordance with law. The administration of its property by a religious denomination has been placed on a different footing from the right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
The latter is a fundamental right which subject to public order, morality and health no legislature can take away, whereas the former can be regulated by laws which the legislature can validly make.
Therefore, if the question merely relates to administration of properties belonging to a religious group or institution, it is not a matter of religion to which clause (b) of the article would apply. The Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 was concerned with the secular administration of the affairs of the temple and was therefore constitutionally valid.
Clauses (c) and (d) of Article 26 do not create rights in any denomination or any section thereof which it never had; they merely safeguard and guarantee the continuance of rights which such denomination or its section had.
Accordingly, if the right to administer properties never vested in the denomination or had been validly surrendered by it or had otherwise been lost to it, Article 26 would not help.
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Article 26(c) is to be read subject to the State’s power to acquire private property. The religious denominations can own and acquire properties and administer them in accordance with law, but that does not mean that the properties owned by them cannot be acquired. As a result of acquisition they cease to own property. Thereafter their right to administer that property ceases because it is no longer their property. Article 26 Indian constitution does not interfere with the right of the State to acquire property.
Article 26 Case Laws
In Him Kishore Deb V. State of Orissa9, the Sri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 was challenged as violative of Article 26(b). By the Act, the management of the temple of Lord Iagannath at Puri was taken over from the sole control of the Raja of Puri and vested in a committee. The Act provided that it shall be the duty of the committee to arrange for the proper performance of servapuja, etc. of the temple in accordance with the record of rights. Sevapuja has two aspects secular and religious. The Act related only to the secular functions since it regulated that aspect of the worship which related to the provision of materials, etc. for the purpose of sevapuja which is essentially a secular function. The Act did not affect the religious aspect of sevapuja as the persons who were to perform the puja and other rites as required by the dictates of the religion were left untouched. Since the Act was concerned only with the secular management of the religious institution there was no violation of the freedom of religion.
Article 25 and 26 of Indian constitution
The right of a denomination to wholly exclude members of the public from worshipping in its temple, though included in Article 26(b), must yield to the overriding right declared by Article 25(2)(b) in favour of the public to enter into a temple for worship.
But where the right claimed on behalf of the temple is not one of general and total exclusion of the public from worship. in the temple at all times but of exclusion from certain religious services, they being limited by the rules of the foundation to the members of the denomination, then the question is not whether Article 25 of Indian Constitution (2)(b) overrides that right so as to extinguish it but‘ whether it is possible so to regulate the rights of the persons protected by “Article 25(2)(b)” as to give effect to both the rights.
If the denominational rights are such that to give effect to them would substantially reduce the right conferred by Article 25(2)(b), then of course on the conclusion that Article 25(2)(b) prevails as against Article 26(b), the denominational rights must vanish. But where that is not the position, and after giving effect to the rights of the denomination, What is left to the public of the rights of worship is “something substantial and not merely the husk ofi ”, ther is no reason why the courts should not so construe Article 25(2)(b) as to give effect to Article 26(1)) and recognise the rights of the denominations in respect of mm ters which are strictly denominational, leaving the rights of the public in Other respects unaffected.
V.N SHUKHLA CONSTITUTION OF INDIA