Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic Objectives Resolution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947, and which forms the philosophical basis of the Constitution, envisaged an India “wherein… (would be guaranteed to all) freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship… (and) adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities…”. This ideal was reflected in the Preamble — which, though not originally containing the word ‘secular’, resolved “to secure to all its citizens… liberty of… belief, faith and worship”.
This liberty is part of the Fundamental Rights available to any person — and not just to citizens — in India. Articles 25-28 cover all aspects that make India a secular state — one that has no state religion, and is neutral and impartial towards all religions. Everyone is guaranteed the freedom of conscience and to profess, practise and propagate his/her own religion (Art 25); religious groups have the right to establish their institutions (Art 26); no one can be taxed for promoting a religion or maintaining a religious institution (Art 27). While religious education is prohibited in fully state-funded institutions, in other institutions, it cannot be imposed upon people of other religions (Art 28).
The Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, notified in January 1977 during the Emergency, amended the Preamble to incorporate the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’. The introduction of the word ‘secular’ specifically expressed and underlined the secular nature and objective of the Indian state.