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Secularism in India has always been more of a political than a philosophical phenomenon. Secularism may be one of the basic features of the Preamble but its validity as one of the basic features of the Constitution and its practicability in Indian society is questionable. There is an increasing use of religion in the social construction of ethnic and communal identity which is made the basis for the articulation of common economic interests and political mobilization. There is also the construction of a pan Indian Hindu consciousness that cuts across caste and regional divisions. While secularism has been integral to India's democracy for more than 50 years, its limitations & implementations are indeed matters of acrimonious debate even to this day. Discussions on the place of religious community in Indian society have turned on the opposition of "secularism & communalism" and of "modernity & tradition". Secularism is unalterably linked with modernity, but the ideal of equal respect for all religions has not been translated into social reality, and the end result is something termed as pseudo-secularism.

Modernity was characterized by the emergence of public, civic and privatized religious entities, concepts of a liberal democracy and a nation state, and the "secularized" individual who is unfettered by ascriptive identities. But such a trajectory of human development and social transformation required an understanding of humanity that was fundamentally ahistorical. Both the Round Table Conferences as well as the Constituent Assembly Debates struggled with the dilemma of formulating a liberal democracy for people who had historically been represented, and in turn came to represent themselves, as determined by the ascriptive identities of sect and caste.[1] Whenever critiquing secularism, the question of caste has always been sidelined by the preoccupation with religion. But the politics of secularism in India is integrally reliant and revolves around the co-optation of untouchables into an upper caste Hindu identity. The crucial fact that needs to be clarified is that, rather than being distinct from the categories of community and caste, nationalism and communalism, liberalism and democracy, Indian secularism emerged as the nexus of all of these.[2]

The Indian Constitution has spelt out several provisions regarding the secular state even before the term secularism was introduced into the Preamble of the Constitution in 1976. Articles 14, 15, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 325 all incorporate the principles of

  1. Freedom of religion to individuals as well as to religions.
  2. Equality of citizenship and no discrimination on grounds of religion.
  3. Separation of State from religion.

It is evident that the intention of the Constitution is neither to oppose religion nor to promote a rationalization of culture, but merely to maintain the neutrality and impartiality of the state in matters of religion.

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 stated that "Secular means a republic in which there is equal respect for all religions", but the Supreme Court of India has been interpreting secularism in the Constitution differently over the years in its various judgments.

To examine the vicissitudes of the Indian experiment with secularism, one needs to understand that there is a dichotomy in Indian society- Firstly, the political society comprising parties, movements, non party political formations which channelise popular demands through a form of mobilization termed as democracy- and secondly the civil society for whom the affirmation of secularism has been through the state and its institutions, schools, universities and the English media.

In Indian society, the merits of secularism have been familiarized only by the academy and intellectual circles (civil society) whereas Hindu communal history has pervaded the streets and common sense (political society).[3]

The relations between state, society and religion are not well defined, personal laws vary with religious communities, the precarious position of religious minorities, the affiliations of political formations with religious fundamentalists, increasing importance of the Hindu and more importantly the Hindutva philosophies pose severe challenges to the success and future of secularism in India.[4] It must be conceded that secularism in India today is too politicized and statist acting as an ideology of the state and an instrument of power. It is necessary to find ways to depoliticize secularism and to move it further into the domain of civil society.

The project will put forward and comparatively analyze both the Gandhian and Nehruvian approaches to understanding secularism, the way secularism has been interpreted by the judiciary at times even contravening constitutional provisions, and finally the researcher will attempt to discuss whether a coexistence of democracy and secularism can be successful in a diverse and plural society like that of ours.

Through the research paper, the researcher attempts to advocate the following:

  1. "Secular means a Republic in which there is equal respect for all religions" - In the light of this remark, comparatively analyze the Nehruvian and the Gandhian understanding of the concept of secularism?
  2. Referring to the Constituent Assembly Debates 1946-1950, and landmark Supreme Court Cases, discuss the changing perceptions to the concept of secularism and whether such decisions have been a reflection of the Nehruvian or the Gandhian understanding?
  3. Can Secularism in India survive the functioning of democracy where the will of the majority is imposed on the minority and their consent is gained by a mere strength in numbers?
Chapter 1. Secularism: Nehruvian Understanding Vs. Gandhian Understanding.

"Religion," Nehru wrote to Gandhi in 1933, "is not familiar ground for me, as I have grown older I have definitely drifted away from it. I have something else in its place, something older than just intellect and reason, which gives me strength and hope. Apart from this indefinable and indefinite urge, which may just have a tinge of religion in it & yet is wholly different from it, I have grown entirely to rely on the workings of the mind. Perhaps they are weak supports to rely upon, but, search as I will, I can see no better ones" [5]

Gandhi's use of the term secular in relation to the state is such as may, in contemporary political discourse, be described as "Nehruvian".Likewise, Nehru's positions on the definition of the Indian nation are the same as Gandhi's.[6] That is, Gandhi does not attach any meaning to the term secular that would have been unacceptable to or unintelligible to Nehru.[7] Both possessed a remarkable steadfastness of faith. Even though they had strong mutual synergies on vital issues, nonetheless there was a creative tension in the Gandhi-Nehru relationship.[8] Gandhi and Nehru had differences. Gandhi's religiosity and non violent principles was not shared by Nehru.

Although he opposed the concept of theocratic statehood, Gandhi strongly advocated the importance of religious ethics in political practice. Perhaps no single leader has succeeded to the same extent as Gandhi in terms of effectively appealing to the Indian masses from all walks of life.[9]

Gandhi expressed the opinion that the state should undoubtedly be secular.[10] It could never promote denominational education out of public funds. Everyone living in it should be entitled to profess his religion without hindrance, so long as the citizen obeyed the common law of the land. There should be no interference with missionary effort, but no mission could enjoy the patronage of the state as it did during the foreign regime.[11] This understanding came subsequently to be reflected in Articles 25, 26 and 27 of the Constitution. ." In the last years of Gandhi's life, a withdrawal from the political sphere to that of private moral experimentation is evident.


Unlike Gandhi, Nehru was hurled into the ruckus of politics, in command of a state, the most powerful structured concentration of modern instrumental reason that exists. He subjected Gandhi's principle to scrutiny - could the principle of non-violence make sense in politics, where governments are notoriously based on violence which is indeed the very lifeblood of the modern state. Nehruvian secularism was characterized by an equal contempt for all religions. Secularism as an element of modernity, required therefore a non-discriminatory rejection of all religions and all religiosity from public, as distinct from private, affirmation. Nehru was neither irreligious nor antireligious but his approach to religion was influenced by 3 basic assumptions of humanist liberal tradition- individualism, rationalism and universalism. Nehru's secularism meant "freedom of religion and conscience, including freedom for those who have no religion, subject only to their not interfering with the basic conceptions of our state."

Nehru envisaged for India a secularist programme that gave religion little role in national affairs. Nehru's political wisdom was based on a theory of democracy, socialism, secularism and non-alignment. His strategy lay in an all-out attack on those forces that threatened disunity: provincialism, separatism, communalism and above all casteism.

He could claim credit for making democratic secularism India's pathway to the modern world. In his opinion India's encounter with the West's humanism, skepticism, and its ascendant science and technology, demanded a radical evaluation of all that India knew and was, and in that effort India's outstanding religious heritage must correspondingly bear the strain of the encounter because in the final analysis the encounter of civilizations is a matter of spiritual discernment and active exchange.[12] Nehru was acutely aware and reflected expansively on the meaning of religion in the history of Indian civilization, but interestingly he was far from attempting a philosophy of religion but talked about religion in an anecdotal fashion, allowing others to distil from his remarks a refined Nehruvian theory of religion.[13]

To summarise, analogous to post modernity's concern with immediacy and the present-Gandhi was a relentless explorer of immediacy- 'immediate needs, immediate means, immediate ends'. In a very short span of time Gandhi introduced new themes in Indian politics with mass effect. But throughout his long career as a political thinker and activist, Gandhi encountered the dilemma of either remaining faithful to his non-violent principles and risking the failure of the Indian nationalist movement, or focusing at the seizure of political power at the expense of his moral message.

Nehru's writings reveal full awareness on his part of the need to strengthen nationalism and democracy in a multireligious society characterized by arrested development while his style of functioning is an acknowledgement of the limitations under which he had to work.[14] A point that deserves mention is that Nehru did not intervene even once in the discussions on the clauses related to religious freedom in the constitution assembly debates.

An in depth analysis of Nehruvian philosophy reflects his strong belief that the crucial choice for society is not between a fixed present and a proposed innovation, but more importantly it is concerned with an 'uncritical abandonment' and 'structural engagement'. The essence of Nehruvian philosophy lies in his intellectual and political understanding, in his struggles trying to base public life on a reasoned morality.[15] When dwelling on the thought provoking question of whether secularism has a future in India or not, the Nehruvian analysis regarding the parallel streams of the material and the spiritual which he identified as the fundamental matrix of life, for persons and civilizations alike, seems particularly relevant even to this day.

Chapter 2. Secularism: Constituent Assembly Debates & Landmark Cases.

Constituent Assembly Debates [1946-50]:

A look into the Constituent Assembly's debates clearly reveals that the general understanding amongst members of the assembly was that India was to be a secular state. They have emphasized the secular foundation of the Indian state. They also declare that secularism as adopted in the Indian constitution is not an anti-religious concept; rather it prevents discrimination against the citizens on the basis of religion.

According to H V Kamath, "When I say that a state should not identify itself with any particular religion, I do not mean that a state should be anti-religious or irreligious. India would be a secular state but according to me a secular state is neither a godless state nor an irreligious nor an anti-religious state."

During the debate in the Constituent Assembly, Prime Minister Nehru declared that secularism was an ideal to be achieved and that the establishment of a secular state was an 'act of faith'[16]. It is unfortunate that he failed to identify what "faith" the faith that he was referring to actually meant and in an unfortunate turn of events and circumstances it has been progressively interpreted by the courts to mean the "Hindu" faith.

The dominant position on secularism that a 'democratic' Constitution find place for religion as a way of life for most Indians triumphed over those who wished for the Assembly to grant only a narrow right to religious freedom, or to make the uniform civil code a fundamental right.[17]

The crucial questions that arose by way of discussions in these debates were:

  1. Was a state secular only when it stayed strictly away from religion, and could such a secular state survive only if society was secularised as well?
  2. Did a state that equally respected all religions best capture the meaning of secularism in the Indian context?
  3. How could a democratic state represent a religious majority at the expense of the rights and liberties of a minority?

The issue of religious freedom and secularism was discussed in the light of three alternative theoretical positions:

  1. The no-concern theory of secularism saw a definite line of separation between religion and state. Given the principles of religious liberty and freedom of expression, it was up to the individual to decide whether to be a believer or not, or to adhere to this religion or that.[18] Based on a doctrine of intolerance it confined religion to the private realm. This approach led to a conception of a secular state as one that stays away from religion per se. India was engaged in creating a modern nation state and in this enterprise, religion which seemed to be an obscurantist and divisive force, had no place.
  2. The second position was that no links between the state and religion should be permitted, not because it would weaken the state, but it would demean religion. Religion could not be made subject to the whims of changing majorities by allowing the democratic state to intervene in religious affairs.[19]
  3. The third position termed as the equal respect theory began with the principle of religious liberty, but held that in a society like India where religion is integrally related to the lives of the people, the state should not stay away from all religions equally but that it respects all religions alike.

Thus it is evident the in these Constituent Assembly Debates the main issues of contention were: Whether the right to religious freedom should be the right to religious worship or to religious practice; Whether the state should recognise only linguistic minorities or religious minorities as well; The dispute over the Uniform Civil Code, over political reservation of religious minorities; Whether there should be religious instruction in state-aided schools. What is finally reflected in the articles of the constitution is a broad definition of the right to religion as the right to religious practice, but nonetheless there were no political safeguards for the religious minorities.

Landmark Cases

In Sardar Taheruddin Syedna Sahib v. State of Bombay[20], the apex court claimed that 'Art. 25 & 26 serve to emphasize the secular nature of the Indian democracy which the founding fathers considered to be the very basis of the Constitution.'

Although in Kesavananda Bharati case, it was declared that secularism was a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution, but interestingly a year later in St. Xavier's College Society v. State of Gujarat[21], Supreme Court ruled that it was only by implication that the Constitution envisaged a Secular State.[22] For the first time there seemed to be an apparent contradiction between the judicially constructed concept of secularism and that in the text of the Constitution.

In 1976 the court adopted a more philosophical and utilitarian approach in the Ziyauddin Bukhari[23] case. In the S.R. Bommai[24] case it was reasserted that secularism was a part of the Basic Structure and that it was based on "principles of accommodation and tolerance." Herein what is evident is a euphemistic approach - an espousal of a "soft secularism".[25] In this case it was ruled that

It is interesting to note that the Court withdrew from most of these commitments in the subsequent years.

In the Ramjanmabhoomi case, the court went on to elaborate on secularism in terms of Indian scriptures thereby going back to the Gandhian 'Sarva Dharma Sambhava' - tolerance of all religions. In resorting to religious scriptures the court seems to have rejected the western concept of secularism of separation of church and state as propounded in S.R. Bommai case and has gone back to initial approach of equating secularism with tolerance and the fact that state has the power to take over any religious place.[26]

Lastly with reference to the latest 'Hindutva judgements'[27] the court enunciated, contrary to the Bommai decision that 'a speech with a secular stance alleging discrimination against any particular religion cannot be treated as an appeal on the ground of religion . Moreover the court seemed to have conveniently shifted its stance to uphold the constitutional duty to get political parties in line with secularism and most importantly it equated Hinduism and Hindutva with Indianisation and are not to be construed in a narrow sense.

Thus what is clearly evident is the lack of consistency in these abovementioned Court decisions. The court has mostly stuck to secularism not being a wall between the church and the state but a sense of toleration between people of different religions. There have been frequent deviations from the Bommai decision, but it seems that the Ramjanmabhoomi case encapsulates the essence of Indian secularism - toleration based on tradition. The 'Hindutva judgements' reassert the recognition and increasing importance of the essential Hindu identity of tradition.[28]

Clearly the judiciary in India is a significant site where contests under the banner of secularism have been taking place over the last sixty odd years. Though landmark judgements of the apex court of the nation has been interpreting secularism in the Constitution differently over the years in its various judgments[29] reiterating the fact that secularism is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and that secularism involves liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, even though secularism as a term appears in very few Supreme Court judgements yet it is evident that a crisis of secularism indeed exists in the world's largest and most fractious democracy.

With reference to the Constituent Assembly debates and the landmark cases the following interesting observations can be deduced:

Chapter 3. Secularism & Democracy: A Misunderstood Relation.

Sixty years ago, 565 princely states and 13 British-ruled states became united into one sovereign nation, with a secular democracy as its Constitution's primary guiding principle. In our country, eight major religious communities co-exist ,namely the Hindus(82%), Muslims(12.12%), Christians(2.6%), Sikhs(2%), Buddhists(0.7%), Jains(0.4%), Parsis(0.3%) and Jews(0.1%). The single-most defining element of the Indian democracy is the acceptance of all religions in the nation's Constitution, granting explicit freedom to all its citizens and residents to practice their faiths without violating the others' right to do so. It is from this explicit freedom that citizens experience other freedoms necessary to realize their lives. In stark contrast to some 90 percent of Asian nations, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, India guarantees that right.

A state that arises from democracy need not be strictly secular. Democracies are perfectly capable of giving an important role to religion in the affairs of the state. It is the problem of aggregation that is of utmost importance. A democratic state will tend to reflect in its own makeup the complexity of the individuals it represents.[30]

The challenge facing the theorists of Indian secularism is therefore to devise an answer to the problem of intolerant religions. If one or more religions in a pluralistic society preach their unwillingness to co-exist with the others, and insist on religion as the unitary framework for individual, society, and state, how do we define a secular regime for such societies? No viable model of secularism can be built on terms defined by any one religious group even if it is the majority community, especially so since its mode of toleration has historically included absorption, subjugation and marginalisation of religious minorities.

The Indian democracy provides mechanisms, available in a secular democracy, to temper extremism and intolerance inherent in most religions; it leads diverse religious communities, especially the Hindu majority, to accept that the well being of all human beings consists in respecting the others' religious and civil rights, particularly that of minorities.

Many critics[31] reject secularism as radically alien to Indian culture and tradition and advocate a return to genuine religion and the indigenous traditions of religious tolerance as the best means to preserve a pluralist and multireligious Indian society. On the contrary Nehruvian theory suggests that democracy would have never been possible in a non-secular India. Nehru claims that if democracy requires a minimum consensus about the basic values and institutions of society and the rules of the political game, then such a consensus could not have been built on a religious basis in a pluralist nation like India.[32] This fact is clearly reflected in the failure and subsequent removal of the communal electorate system in the wake of India's independence.

Whether India is a sufficiently secular state and whether circumstances are favourable for the survival of secularism depends ultimately upon the readiness and ability of its people to maintain an autonomous political community. The challenges of casteism, communalism and religious fundamentalism involving separatism in India are the major threats to our Secular state. They weaken the working and stability of our democratic secular Federal state and militate against the basic principles governing our national life and providing means to our new identity. Communal riots and caste carnage has to stop if India has to emerge as a secular and democratic polity.

Large-scale communal riots broke out in India after the demolition of Babri Masjid by the Sangh Parivar in Ayodhya . Both Hindus and Muslims were killed in the communal backlash that followed. The attacks on Christians in Orissa and Gujarat made headlines in electronic and print media. The grouse of the Sangh Parivar is that the Muslims had demolished their temples, humiliated Hindus during Muslim rule and partitioned India and thus justified their animosity and attacks on Muslims. The Godhra and Post-Godhra incidents pointed to the absence of political sanity in Gujarat. Nothing could represent a more provocative insult to the national commitment to communal harmony and pluralist co-existence than Narendra Modi's repeated taunts of the Muslim minority people of his own state, his insinuations that they are susceptible to the supposedly adventurous designs of Pakistan and his final desperate suggestion that if the opposition Congress wins the election, it would represent a victory for Pakistan. The terrorist attack on Indian Parliament on December 13,2001, was unprecedented not only in the history of India but also in the annals of democracy in the world. It manifests utter disregard and contempt for parliamentary democracy by Pakistan which only can boast of a military democracy.

Thus it is evident that during the last 60 years of independence, India has witnessed both successes and failures in running the secular democratic processes. It has evolved a lasting secular constitution, a viable political system and a functional federal secular polity and with strong democratic traditions on the one hand, but on the other hand it has also garnered several communal riots and caste wars. However, it is politics, which proved to be divisive and not religion. It is not religious leaders by and large (with few exceptions) who divide but politicians who seek to mobilise votes on grounds of primordial identities like religion, caste and ethnicity. This is the only challenge that India's secular democracy has to overcome. Thus the real spirit of secularism in India lies in all-inclusiveness, religious pluralism and peaceful co-existence.


The irony of the abovementioned quotations essentially encapsulates the politics of Indian secularism. The political landscape today seems to have become the territory of the nonrational: populated by new claims to selfhood - couched in terms of religion, nation, tribe, and culture - ready to use violence to assert their desires. Reason seems somehow disarmed.

Secularism thus tends to be projected in India as an ideology that can be imposed rather than as a process of establishing the rights of citizens and introducing the changes required for this. Secularism and religion cannot be taken as equal ideologies since they not only imply a different kind of thought process but also dissimilar social concerns. What one needs to understand is that it is not the attempt to marginalize religion through secularism that has strengthened religious fundamentalism but more importantly the impact of globalization and concessions to dictatorial political authority that has led to a parochial retreat into religion in many parts of the world. There are certainly no easy answers in the ongoing struggle for secularism in Indian democracy, and the continuing ascendance of the Hindu Right, with its own distinctive claim to secularism, has further intensified the struggle. One cannot contend that the struggle for secularism will be exclusively a legal one. But it cannot be denied that law and legal discourse will be crucial in this broader discursive struggle, defending secularism from the corrosive influence of the Hindu Right.

Secularisation must be promoted at the political level thereby protecting society from religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism in the contemporary world is primarily a political condition and can be countered if the political inducement to fundamentalism is terminated. The use of religion for political gains constitutes the biggest challenge to secularism. The reform of the electoral process is required so that there is a shift from vote bank politics and politics of communal mobilization to mobilization on the basis of socio-economic issues. We must realise that in the ultimate analysis a strong and secular state can flourish only in a vibrant secular society.

Thus the real spirit of secularism in India is all inclusiveness, religious pluralism and peaceful co-existence. The courts should direct greater attention to unmasking the unstated norms of the majority that lie in the shadows of formal equality and shift their inquiries to a more substantive model of equality. In other words, equality cannot remain the exclusive preserve of the majority community, and it can only be democratised through an analysis that is attentive to issues of historic disadvantage. However, it is politics, which proved to be divisive and not religion. In a multi-religious society, if politics is not based on issues but on identities, it can prove highly divisive. It is not religious leaders by and large (with few exceptions) who divide and rule but politicians who seek to mobilise votes on grounds of primordial identities like religion, caste and ethnicity.

One must admit that the creation of a secular state in India is not easy. But with all its sins and imperfections secularism in the sense in which it is defined in the Indian Constitution indeed appears to provide the best conditions under which pluralist religions can flourish in India.

As Amartya Sen , beautifully concludes that ' ... the case for re-examining.. does not contradict the overarching argument for secularism and the overwhelming need for symmetric treatment of different communities and religions in India.... The winter of our discontent might not be giving way, right now , to a " glorious summer", but the abandonment of secularism would make things far more wintry than they currently are.'


  1. Tejani Shabnum ,Reflections on the Category of Secularism in India.
  2. Tejani Shabnum ,Reflections on the Category of Secularism in India.
  3. Menon Nivedita, Living With Secularism.
  4. Shourie, A. A Secular Agenda,. 3rd ed. (New Delhi : Harper Collins. 1993).
  5. The Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 5, p. 473.
  6. Gandhi did not believe in State religion. He contemplated a secular state which had nothing to do with religion. "If I were a dictator, religion and state should be separate. Religion is purely a personal concern." According to him the State cannot concern itself or cope with religious education.
  7. Nauriya Anil, Gandhi on Secular Law and State, The Hindu, Wednesday, October 22,2003.
  8. In The Discovery of India , in July 1930 Nehru wrote to Gandhi "I delight in warfare. It makes me feel that I'm alive. Events of the last four months in India [the unrest following the Amritsar massacre of 1919] have gladdened my heart and made me prouder of Indian people than I have ever been, but I realize that most people are not warlike, and like peace and so I try hard to suppress myself and take a peaceful life."
  9. Ranjan Nalini, Secularism,Democracy & Justice-The Application of Rawlsian Principles in India.
  10. "I do not expect India of my dreams to develop one religion, i.e., to be wholly Hindu or wholly Christian or wholly Mussalman, but I want it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another.'' - Gandhi 1948.
  11. The Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.90.
  12. Sanneh Lamin, The Future of Secularism & the Promise of Diversity in India- A Historical Perspective.
  13. Nehru's focus was to locate the intellectual sources of democracy in India's vast arsenal of religious and philosophical writings. India's religious classics allowed Nehru to give an Indian orientation to his social and political programme. He was realistic enough to appreciate the need to ground the aspirations of emerging India in the nation's own self understanding rather than turning to western justifications -The Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 5.
  14. Sanneh Lamin, The Future of Secularism & the Promise of Diversity in India- A Historical Perspective.
  15. Khilnani Sunil, Nehru's Faith.
  16. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. VII, p. 831
  17. Jha Shefali, "Secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, 1946-1950.", Economic and Political Weekly,July 27,2002.
  18. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. VII, p. 815 as cited in Rao, P.P., "Basic Features of the Constitution", (2000) 2 SCC (Jour) 1.
  19. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. X, p.446-447
  20. AIR 1962 SC 853.
  21. [1974] 1 SCC 717.
  22. "The Constitution has not erected a rigid wall of separation between the Church and the State. It is only in the qualified sense that India can be said to be a secular State. There are provisions in our Constitution which make one hesitate to characterise our State as secular......"
  23. [1976] 2 SCC 17. The role of the state was set to be neutral and impartial in extending its benefits to citizens of all castes and creeds and cast a duty on the State to ensure through its laws that disabilities are not imposed based on persons practising or professing any particular religion.
  24. [1994] 3 SCC 1. The Bommai case had involved a challenge to the validity of Presidential declaration dismissing the BJP Governments in 4 states following the destruction of the mosque at Ayodhya and the ensuing communal riots. The Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the declaration and in so doing passed considerable comment on the meaning of secularism in Indian Constitutional law.
  25. Sorabjee, Soli J. "Decision of the Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India: A Critique." [1994] 3 SCC (Jour) 1. It was ruled that freedom and tolerance of religion is only to the extent of permitting pursuit of spiritual life that is different from the secular life. The court further said that the encroachment of religion into secular activities is strictly prohibited.
  26. Banerjee Vikramjeet and Sumeet Malik, Changing Perceptions of Secularism, SCC, Vol. 7, p 6.
  27. Ramesh Yashwant Prabhoo (Dr.) v. Prabhakar K. Kuntel, (1996) 1 SCC 130; Manohar Joshi v. Nitin
  28. Bhau Rao Patil, (1996) 1 SCC 169; Ramchandra K. Kapse v. Haribansh R. Singh, (1996) 1 SCC 206.
  29. Banerjee Vikramjeet and Sumeet Malik, Changing Perceptions of Secularism, SCC, Vol. 7, p. 8.
  30. S.R.Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1; Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225.
  31. Thapar Romila, Is Secularism alien to Indian Civilization?
  32. Ashis Nandy, T.N.Madan, M.N.Srinivas among others.
  33. The Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 5.