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Articles of FaithReligion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court$
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Ronojoy Sen

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780198063803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198063803.001.0001

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(p.192) 8 Conclusion
Articles of Faith

Ronojoy Sen

Oxford University Press

If the overall direction of India's court decisions on religion were to be assessed from 1951 to the present, some patterns are discernible. This has something to do with the personality of dominant judges, usually serving chief justices or judges who would become chief justices, as well as the prevailing political climate. The Supreme Court laid the foundation for a relationship between state and organized religion that gave considerable freedom to religious denominations. One of the main themes of this book is the strong current of high modernism and rationalism in the judicial discourse on religion. This comes out most powerfully in the Court's understanding of Hinduism, and its articulation and application of the doctrine of essential practices. Another important theme is the Court's attitude towards minorities and its understanding of minority rights, particularly in relation to Muslims. The Court has not been sufficiently sensitive to the fact that the threats posed to a civil liberal order in India and elsewhere are less from disputes over religious beliefs and more from the conjunction of nationalism and religion.

Keywords:   India, Supreme Court, nationalism, religion, court decisions, judges, minority rights, Hinduism, Muslims, doctrine of essential practices

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