Social evils take refuge as religious customs: Law Commission

New Delhi: The Law Commission in its consultation paper released on Friday addressed the difference between freedom of religion and one’s right to equality.

The commission stated while freedom of religion and the right to practice and propagate religion must be strongly protected in a secular democracy, we must not overlook the number of social evils that take refuge as religious customs.

It said, “It is important to bear in mind that a number of social evils take refuge as religious customs, these may be evils such as sati, slavery, devadasi, dowry, triple talaq, child marriage or any other. To seek their protection under the law as religion would be a grave folly.”

The commission noted that religious practices that do not conform with basic tenets of human rights, are also not essential to the religion.

It stated, “Even being essential to religion should not be a reason for a practice to continue if it is discriminatory.”

The paper further said that the right to equality cannot be treated as an absolute right.
“In a country like ours where social inequalities plague our society and economic inequality is insurmountable, it would be erroneous to presume that all citizens uniformly benefit from the right to equality,” it added.

“Therefore equity and not mere equality would mean that preferential rights and protections are maintained for vulnerable or historically subordinated sections of the society, for there is no equality in treating unequals as equals.”

The consultation paper discussed a range of provisions within all family laws, secular or personal, and suggested a number of changes in the form of potential amendments and fresh enactments.