S.P. Mittal Etc. vs Union Of India And Others

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 8 November, 1982

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Chandrachud, Y.V. ((Cj), Bhagwati, P.N., Reddy, O. Chinnappa (J), Eradi, V. Balakrishna (J), Misra, R.B. (J)

REFERENCE: 1983 AIR, 1 1983 SCR (1) 729

PARTIES

Petitioner: S.P. Mittal Etc.

Respondent: Union of India & Others.

SUBJECT: India being a secular country has tolerance for all religions and this is reflected in our judicial decisions from time to time. Religious freedom in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 15 and Article 25 of the Constitution of India. But guaranteeing rights is not enough. There have been many disputes between various interest groups and law enforcement agencies, and one of such conflict was dealt by this 1983 decision.

FACTS:
  • Sri Aurobindo was one of the greatest sages and philosophers of India. After a career in politics and administration, he decided to turn his life in Tamil Nadu Pondicherry to yoga and meditation. A Frenchwoman named Madame M. Alfasa became her student and later came to be known as mother.
  • Soon, many people from India and other countries joined Sri Aurobindo and in 1960 founded the Sri Aurobindo Association in accordance with the West Bengal Registration of societies Act of 1961.
  • A few years later, a new township was founded called AUROVILLE, where people studied the teachings of Sri Aurobindo. Given the unique working conditions, the central government decided to finance the township. As a result, UNESCO decided to support this township in the development process, as it is useful for international relations.
  • In 1970, after the death of Mother Alfassa, there were many cases of abuse of funds in the township. To resolve such conflicts, the central government decided to control the administration itself, and the President’s ordinance was issued by the legislation. After a while, this ordinance was changed to the 1980 Auroville Emergency Provision Act. It was challenged before the Supreme Court of India.
IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:
  • The constitution of India
  • Article 14: Equality before law
  • Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs Subject to public order, morality and health
  • Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities
  • Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions
  • Auroville Emergency Provision Act 1980

ISSUES:

1) Whether the Auroville Emergency Provision Act 1980 violates the provisions of constitution of India?

JUDGEMENT:
  1. The Parliament has the legislative power to enact the 1980 Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act.
  2. The legal subject of the disputed Act is not included in Entry 32 of List II of the seventh schedule. In any case, the subject of the impunged act is still covered by residuary entry 97 of list I, even if it is not included in a specific entry of list I or III of schedule 7 of the constitution.
  3. The function of the list in the schedule seven of the constitution is not to delegate powers. They only demarcate legislative areas. Legislative powers are available to legislature subject to articles 245 to 248 of the Constitution.
  4. The Auroville Act did not incidentally trench upon the areas covered by the West Bengal Societies Registration Act of 1961, as it is not related to the Constitution, regulation and winding up of the Society.
  5. Thus, this law does not violate the provisions of the Constitution of India.

CONCLUSION:

Religion, which is not defined in the Constitution, cannot be determined by the judiciary either. In the light of the foundations of constitutional norms and the light presented by judicial precedent, we can say that religion is a matter of faith. This is a question of belief and doctrine.

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