Although the word ‘Secular’ finds its place in the Preamble only after the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976, yet the provisions of our Constitution reflect the secular spirit.
A secular State, as opposed to a theocratic one, is neutral in religious matters and does not have anything as State religion.
According to D. E. Smith, “the secular State is a State which guarantees individual and corporate freedom of religion, deals with the individual as a citizen “respective of his religion, is not constitutionally connected to a Particular religion nor does it seek either to promote or interfere with that religion”.
India as a secular State guarantees individual and corporate religious freedom. The State does not profess any State religion nor does it discriminate against any. It does not allow its authority to propagate any religion or creed.
Religious instruction in educational institutions wholly maintained out of State funds is prohibited, and even in any privately managed institutions recognised or aided by the State, no one can be compelled to participate in any religious instruction or worship conducted in them.
Article 16 of the Constitution provides for the equal opportunity for employment under the State without having any discrimination against any religious community.
The Constitution of India had abolished the system of communal electorate that had been introduced by the Morley-Minto Reforms in 1909. It explicitly prohibited any taxation by the State for the religious purposes. Right to Freedom of Religion has been guaranteed as a Fundamental Right.
All religions have been given equal chance and treated alike by the State. A Secular State does not mean a Godless or anti-religious State. Religions have greater role to play in the lives of citizens in India but the State does not interfere with them.
On the eve of Independence Pandit Nehru defending Indian stand on secularism said, “So far India is concerned we have very clearly stated both as Government and otherwise that we cannot think of any State which might be called a communal or religious State.
We can only think of a secular, non-communal, democratic State in which every individual, to whatever religion he may belong, has equal rights and opportunities”. The secular spirit in India is an age-old convention. It is one of the most important features to ensure unity of the nation.