Kesavananda v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461 : The Supreme Court has declared secularism as the basic feature of the Indian Constitution.
S R Bommai v Union of India (1994) 3 SCC 1 : The Supreme Court has ruled that secularism is an essential feature of the Constitution. The concept of secularism is embedded in the Constitution. The concept means that the State is to accord equal treatment to all religions and religious sects and denominations.
State of Karnataka v. Praveen Bhai Thogadia, (2004) 4 SCC 684 : Secularism is a part of fundamental law and an unalienable segment of the basic structure of the country’s political system.
SECULARISM IN INDIAN CONSTITUTION :
The expression “secularism” was not originally there in the constitution. And the same was inserted in the Preamble by Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976.
This was done to spell out expressly the high ideas of secularism and the compulsive need to maintain the integrity of the nation which are subjected to considerable stresses and strains, and vested interests have been trying to promote their selfish ends to the great detriment of the public good.
WHY IS IT AN ESSENTIAL FEATURE IN INDIAN CONSTITUTION : Each person, whatever be his religion, must get an assurance from the State that he has the protection of law freely to profess, practise and propagate his religion and freedom of conscience.
Religion cannot be mixed with secular activities of the State and fundamentalism of any kind cannot be permitted to masquerade as political philosophies to the detriment of the larger interest of society and basic requirement of a Welfare State.
Secularism is thus more than a passive attitude of religious tolerance. It is a positive concept of equal treatment of all religions.
This attitude is described by some as one of neutrality towards religion or as one of benevolent neutrality. This may be a concept evolved by western liberal thought or it may be, as some say, an abiding faith with the Indian people at all points of time. That is not material.
What is material is that it is a constitutional goal and a basic feature of the Constitution as affirmed in Kesavananda Bharati [Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225 : 1973 Supp SCR 1] and Indira N. Gandhi v. Raj Narain [1975 Supp SCC 1 : (1976) 2 SCR 347]
Any step inconsistent with this constitutional policy is, in plain words, unconstitutional.
Verma, J., delivering the majority opinion in M. Ismail Faruqui v. Union of India , AIR 1995 SC 605. observed in relation to the concept of secularism: "The Preamble of the Constitution read in particular with Articles 25 to 28 … the concept of secularism embodied in the constitutional… The concept of secularism is one facet of the right to equality woven as the central golden thread in the fabric depicting the pattern of the scheme in our Constitution."