News: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday upheld the ban on the wearing of hijab (head scarf) by students in schools and colleges in the State. It held that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution.
About Freedom of Religion in India:
Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
Modern India came into existence in 1947 and the Indian constitution’s preamble was amended in 1976 to state that India is a secular state.
Supreme Court of India ruled that India was already a secular state from the time it adopted its constitution, what actually was done through this amendment is to state explicitly what was earlier contained implicitly under article 25 to 28.
Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully.
India is one of the most diverse nations in terms of religion, it being the birthplace of four major world religions: Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
Even though Hindus form close to 80 percent of the population, India also has region-specific religious practices: for instance, Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority, Punjab has a Sikh majority, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram have Christian majorities and the Indian Himalayan States such as Sikkim and Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and the state of Maharashtra and the Darjeeling District of West Bengal have large concentrations of Buddhist population.
About Article 25:
Article 25 (1) of the Indian Constitution states, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.”
This means that all Indian citizens are entitled to the aforementioned rights provided that these do not contradict a public order, morality, health and other provisions.
Article 25 (2) of the Indian Constitution states, “Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law– (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice; (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”
This means that the state can either condition the working of existing law(s) or make new law(s) so as to regulate and restrict financial, political, economical, or other secular activities associated with faiths. It further facilitates social welfare and reform or opening of Hindu religious institutions of a public character that is open to all sections and classes of Hindus.
It is worth noting that Hindus here includes people professing Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Furthermore, people wearing and carrying kirpans are included in the Sikh religion.
2. EUROPEAN UNION
News: The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia traveled by train on Tuesday to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine’s top leadership as Russia’s offensive moved closer to the centre of the capital.
About European Union:
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2(1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. An internal single market has been established through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where the states have agreed to act as one.
EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market; enact legislation in justice and home affairs; and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.
Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area.
The eurozone is a monetary union established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, that is composed of the 19 EU member states that use the euro currency.
The union and EU citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.
About Schengen Area:
The Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.
The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
The area is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement signed in Schengen, Luxembourg.
Of the 27 EU member states, 22 participate in the Schengen Area.
Of the five EU members that are not part of the Schengen Area, four—Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania—are legally obliged to join the area in the future; Ireland maintains an opt-out, and instead operates its own visa policy.
The four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, are not members of the EU, but have signed agreements in association with the Schengen Agreement.