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Religion: Religious Expression Laws

Constitution of India (1950)

The Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion as a fundamental right. It grants individuals the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate any religion of their choice. It also prohibits discrimination based on religion.

The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act (1991)

This law seeks to maintain the religious character of places of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947. It prohibits the conversion of any place of worship from one religious denomination to another and ensures the preservation of religious rights and sentiments.

Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act (1988)

This law aims to prevent the misuse of religious institutions for political, financial, or other purposes. It provides for the regulation and control of religious trusts and institutions to ensure their proper administration and management.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (2010)

This law regulates the acceptance and utilization of foreign contributions or donations by religious organizations and places certain restrictions to ensure transparency and prevent misuse.

Anti-Conversion Laws

Several states in India have enacted laws known as "Right to Freedom of Religion" acts, also known as anti-conversion laws. These acts regulate religious conversions and require prior permission from the government for religious conversions. The specific acts and their provisions vary from state to state.

Public Worship Regulation Acts

Some states have enacted laws that regulate public religious gatherings, processions, and celebrations to maintain law and order and ensure peaceful coexistence among different religious communities. These acts may include provisions for obtaining permits, managing crowd control, and preventing public disturbances during religious events.

Registration of Religious Organizations

Religious organizations are required to register under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, or other relevant acts to establish legal entities. Registration ensures accountability, transparency, and compliance with certain legal obligations.

Personal Laws

India recognizes personal laws based on religion, which govern matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption for different religious communities. These laws are specific to each religion and are administered by religious institutions or community bodies.

Protection of Places of Worship Act (1991)

This law aims to protect places of worship from damage, destruction, or desecration. It provides for the punishment of those who commit offenses against religious places and ensures their proper maintenance and security.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC)

The IPC contains provisions relating to religious harmony, such as Section 153A (promoting enmity between different religious groups) and Section 295 (hurting religious sentiments). These sections aim to prevent hate speech, incitement of violence, and acts that could disturb communal harmony.

National Commission for Minorities Act (1992)

This act establishes the National Commission for Minorities, which safeguards the rights and interests of religious and linguistic minorities in India. The commission works towards promoting religious freedom, preventing discrimination, and addressing grievances of minority communities.

Tax Exemptions

Religious institutions in India, such as temples, churches, mosques, and gurudwaras, may be eligible for tax exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961. These exemptions are subject to certain conditions and requirements, and they aim to support the charitable and religious activities of these institutions.

Foreign Missionary Activities

Foreign missionaries operating in India are subject to regulations and restrictions under various laws, including the Foreigners Act, 1946, and the Visa Manual. These laws govern the entry, stay, and activities of foreign nationals, including missionaries, in India.

Freedom of Religion Acts (State-Specific)

Some states in India have enacted Freedom of Religion Acts, also known as anti-conversion laws, which regulate religious conversions. These laws require individuals or religious organizations to obtain prior permission or provide notification for religious conversions and prohibit conversions through force, fraud, or inducement.

Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act (1991)

This act freezes the status quo of religious places of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947. It prohibits the conversion of any place of worship and ensures that religious places are not forcibly taken over, converted, or destroyed.

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act (2013)

This act regulates the acquisition of land, including land owned by religious institutions, by the government or private entities for public purposes. It provides for fair compensation and rehabilitation measures for those affected by land acquisition.

The Censorship of Films

Films that involve religious themes or content may be subject to censorship under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reviews and certifies films to ensure that they do not hurt religious sentiments or promote communal disharmony.

Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act (1971)

This act makes it an offense to insult or show disrespect to the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India. It includes provisions to protect national honor and symbols, which are often associated with religious sentiments.