Judicially Invented Conundrum of Religious Freedom in India

The paper disagrees with the least common denominator approach adopted by the Indian Constitutional Courts to construe religious freedom. The Essential Religious Practice Test, developed by the Supreme Court to determine whether a religious practice is protected under the Constitution, extensively limits the scope of religious freedom as it protects only those practices that form an essential part of religion’ & leaves out other religious practices. The paper, through case studies, analyses the flaws of the Test, based on the practices it fails to protect, the practices it may fail to protect because it misconstrues constitutional provisions & principles, & the rationale adopted by it to provide constitutional protection. To conclude, the paper provides a purposivetextual analysis of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution & Constituent Assembly Debates on religious freedom to argue for a more liberal test for determining the constitutional protection of religious practices