Offenses against Religion under IPC

India is a land of religion and at the same time, it is also a secular country. Indian constitution embodies the positive type of secularism that is giving equal respect to secularism and protecting all religions’ equality.

The word secular is defined in the Indian constitution by the 42nd constitutional amendment 1976. And Indian constitution provides the right to freedom of religion under articles 25 to 28 which is a fundamental right under part 3 of the Indian constitution. Every person has the right to freedom of religion and practice and professes the religion.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION FOR THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION:

Part III of the Indian constitution provides this right to every citizen.

Article 25: freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.

Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.

Article 27: freedom as to payment to taxes for promotion of any particular religion.

Article 28: freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

WHAT IS RELIGION?

This term is not denied anywhere but in the case of the commissioner, Hindu Vs. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swami 1953” court said, religion is certainly a matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is not necessarily theistic. Religion is the belief that brings the spiritual nature of man to supernature beings. It includes worship, faith, belief, devolution, etc, and extends to rituals.

AN OFFENSE RELATING TO RELIGION UNDER IPC:

Chapter fifteen of the Indian legal code deals with offenses with reference to faith and therefore the section starts from 295 to 298. which indicates to the state or maintain the spiritual harmony. The offenses underneath this chapter may be classified into three categories:

  1. Defilement of places of worship or objects of great respect (Section 295 to 297).
  2. Outraging or wounding the religious feelings of the persons (section 295A to 298).
  3. Disturbing religious assemblies (section 296).

SECTION 295:

Injuring or defiling a place of worship, with the intent to insult the religion of any class.— Whoever destroys, damages, or defiles (damages the purity or appearance of) any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Punishment under this section: 2 years imprisonment or fine or both. And the nature of the offense is a non-cognizable and non-bailable offense and non-compoundable and offenses conducted under this section can be trialed by any magistrate.

  1. Veerabadran Chettiar Vs. E.V. Ramaswami Naicker 1032: any object held sacred by any class d person occurring in section 295 of the IPC of general import and cannot be limited to idols of temples or idols carried on festival occasions. Not merely idols or scary books, but nay another object which is regarded as sacred by any class of person, whether actually worshipped or not, fall within the description.

SECTION 295A:

Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.—Whoever, with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2 [citizens of India], 3 [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4 [three years], or with fine, or with both.]

Punishment under this section: 3 years of imprisonment or fine or both. And the nature of the offense is a cognizable and non-bailable offense.

SECTION 296:

Disturbing religious assembly.—Whoever voluntarily causes disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship, or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Punishment under this section: 1 year of imprisonment or fine or both. And the nature of the offense is a cognizable and bailable offense.

SECTION 297:

Trespassing on burial places, etc.—Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sepulture, or any place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Punishment under this section: 1 year of imprisonment or fine or both. And the nature of the offense is a cognizable and non-bailable offense.

SECTION 298:

Trespassing on burial places, etc.—Whoever, with the intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person or with the knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, commits any trespass in any place of worship or on any place of sepulture, or any place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead, or offers any indignity to any human corpse, or causes disturbance to any persons assembled for the performance of funeral ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Punishment under this section: 1 year of imprisonment or fine or both. And the nature of the offense is a non-cognizable and non-bailable offense and compoundable offense.

CASE LAWS RELATED TO THESE PROVISIONS:

Ramji Lal Modi Vs. state of UP 1957: the constitutional validity of section 295A of IPC was upheld.

Ramaswamy Udayar Vs. the district collector and ors: the madras high court upheld the right of a religious procession.

CONCLUSION:

As the Indian constitution explains the freedom of religion so we can say that this is the right that is given by the constitution-makers and ensures the legislature includes the provision in the Indian penal code 1860.

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