Adopted in 1950, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution legally abolished untouchability—the ancient Hindu system of social discrimination—forbade its practice in any form, and made the enforcement of any discrimination arising out of this disability a criminal offence. At the same time, the Indian Constitution guaranteed freedom of religious belief and practice under Article 25 and autonomy of religious institutions under Article 26. The discussion of Employment Division v. Smith in Winnifred Sullivan’s post and subsequent comments reminded me of the very substantial jurisprudence surrounding Article 26.Read the rest of Religious freedom as crisis claims.
Nandini Chatterjee is lecturer in history at Plymouth University, UK. She works on law and the formation of religious subjectivities in colonial India and in other locations within the British Empire. Chatterjee is the author of The Making of Indian Secularism: Empire, Law and Christianity, 1830-1960 (2011) and “English law, Brahmo marriage and the problem of religious difference: civil marriage laws in Britain and India” (2010). She is the director of an AHRC-funded research network “Subjects of law: rightful selves and the legal process in imperial Britain and the British Empire.”