Mumbai : In a significant judgement, the Bombay High Court has held that the government cannot compel any person to declare his religion in any document.

Hearing a PIL filed by three individuals, a bench of justices Abhay Oka and A S Chandurkar ruled that every citizen in India, which was a secular democratic republic, had the right under the Constitution to state that he or she does not belong to any religion and does not practice or profess any religion.

The Centre and Maharashtra Government had stated that “No Religion” filled up in official forms cannot be treated as a religion or a form of religion. Referring to Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees right to freedom of conscience, the bench held that such a right conferred on a citizen includes a right to openly say that he or she does not practice any religion.

“India is a secular democratic republic and there is complete freedom for any individual to decide whether he or she wants to adopt or profess any religion,” the judges said.

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