Is organized atheism a challenge to the law of India? (Faith cannot be considered by birth but by conscience)
Atheists do not believe God as described in religious scriptures of different religions of the world. But they admit that there is an infinite intelligence behind the whole creation, which is not a spiritual but a scientific phenomenon. Rationalists believe everything by reasons. Any away, many groups have already developed all over the world in organized way who claim themselves as rationalists and atheists and do not belong to any religion which is evident from the media. As a result this situation affects the law of the lands to which they belong. Accordingly the laws should be modified, judiciary should be evolved to meet the changed situation. The situation in india is not an exception at all.
Constitutional provisionsin India :-
In Part III of the constitution of India under Article 25 (1) it is provided that “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 propogate religion.” Retionalism and atheism are products of conscience of a person.The freedom of conscience is guaranteed in Constitution of India since 1950. Of course these isms are not new to India or world. But from 1950 it became a fundamental right in India. This Article guarantees the freedom of conscience to every person, and not only to the citizen of India. To profess a religion means the right to declare freely and openly one’s faith.(Punjabrao v.DP Meshram, AIR 1965 sc 1179 ).
Sub-clause(b)of clause (2) of Article 25 of Constitution of India reserves the State’s power to make laws providing for social welfare and social reform even though they might interfere with religious practices. It is a point to note that the phrase “laws provided for social welfare and social reform” is not intended to cover the basic essentials of the creed of a religion which is protected by Article 25(1).(Saifuddin Saheb V. State of Bombay, AIR 1962 SC875 ). I like to stress that state is empowered to make laws for the changed situation as this new situation has brought the atheist community to a lawless land though it is constitutional in India.
Faith because of conscience versus Faith by birth :-
When a child grows gradually his conscience develops to judge by himself which is correct and which is wrong to believe and pratise. It depends upon his intellect and experiences gathered from the surroundings and facts of his life if he is having an independent thinking. His thinking influences his sub-conscious mind and accordingly he behaves or acts in his worldly life which can be called as his faith on a particular doctrine. So relevant laws for him should be made for protection of his faith or religion developed from conscience but not to protect the faith acquired by birth.
Our all personal laws are based on the faith or religion of a person which he or she has acquired by birth. But those people because of their conscience claim that they do not belong to any religion on the earth and they are only human beings as per their conscience, they do not have any law of the land, If the present personal laws are applied to them it can be said that no justice is done to them as their conscience is ignored. So for such persons new laws should be made to create an evolved social order.
In Constitution of India under Article 28(1) also rationalism or atheism is reflected as it says that, ‘’ No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.”
Oath and affirmation :-
Wikipedia says that, “In law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to taking an oath .An affirmation has exactly the same legal effect as an oath but is usually taken to avoid the religious implications of an oath; it is thus legally binding but not considered a religious oath.”
In the Constitution of India under Article 60 for oath or affirmation of President a form is prescribed and under Article 69 such form is prescribed for the oath or affirmation of Vice-President.In the schedule III of Constitution of India there is form for oath or affirmation of Council of Ministers etc. In all these forms it is mentioned that “I swear in the name of God———“ and there is an alternate phrase is provided that says, “ I do solemnly affirm that”.Out of these both phrases any one phrase can be used in the oath or affirmation.
In the schedule of Indian Oath Act,1969,also there are four forms like Form NO-1 for witness, Form No-2 for Jurors,Form No-3 for Interpreters,Form No-4 for affidavits for taking oath or affirmation.In all these forms similarly alternate phrases are there for the purpose of taking oath or affirmation.
The phrases “ I do solemnly affirm that” is applicable for rationalists and atheists as it does not involve any religious implications.
Special Marriage Act,1954 :-
The Special Marriage Act,1954 allows the marriage of people with no religious beliefs and also to non-religious and non-ritualistic marriages. This Act suits to the atheists in India.
Advantages of atheism in present context :-
Now Whole world is divided by many names of God and people are separated from each other because of various types of fundamentalism those have grown up in the societies. The name of God is so much polluted that as a result some times intolerance and violence takes place among the people of different faith. The universal brotherhood is gradually disestablishing in the human kingdom. So rationalists and atheists believe that if the concept of God as described by different religions can be ignored and scientific temper can be developee among the people all the above discussed problems can be solved and unity,stability, peace can prevail in the societies with no border problems all over the world. That is why, all the nations of the world should make their laws to suit the new situation. But still today atheism and irreligion are not officially recognized in India. How ever apostasy is allowed under the right to freedom of religion in its Constitution.
I suggest that it is the need of the hour to recognize atheism officially in India and pass an Act providing all necessary legal provisions for the rationalists and atheists to make the legislation, administration, judiciary of the land more rational and judicious.
By Dr. Rajat Kumar satapathy