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—
(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
(d) to administer such property in accordance with law.
-Text in Constitution
Explanation of Article 26
Article 25 guarantees the rights of individuals, while Article 26 guarantees the rights of religious denominations or their sections.
In other words, Article 26 protects collective freedom of religion.
Like the rights under Article 25, the rights under Article 26 are also limited on certain ground.
- public order,
but not limited by other provisions relating to the Fundamental Rights.
The Supreme Court in S. P. Mittal vs UOI 1983 case held that a religious denomination must satisfy three conditions:
- It should be a collection of individuals who have a system of beliefs (doctrines) which they regard as conducive to their spiritual well-being;
- It should have a common organization; and
- It should be designated by a distinctive name.
Under the above criteria, the Supreme Court held that the ‘Ananda Marga’ is religious denominations within the Hindu religion. It also held that the Aurobindo Society is not a religious denomination.
Related Cases And SC Judgment
Brahmachari Sidheswar Shai vs State of West Bengal 1995:- The ‘Ramakrishna Mission’ is a religious denomination within the Hindu religion.
S. Azeez Basha vs UOI 1967:- Religious institute means it has established under religion, not by any other. Means Aligarh Muslim university not a religious institute of Muslims because it is established by an act pass by parliament.