In reply to an RTI query filed by Chandrashekhar Gaur, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, the Ministry of Home Affairs replied that it does not know the definition of the word ‘Hindu’.
In his query, Gaur asked about the meaning and definition of the word ‘Hindu’ in the light of the Indian Constitution.
“To my query, the Home Ministry in its reply on July 31 said the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) doesn’t have information regarding it.”
The reply by the ministry was baffling, said Gaur.
“If the government doesn’t know the meaning and definition of the word Hindu, on what basis did it enact the Hindu Marriage Act?” he questioned.
The Constitution of India is silent on the meaning. being Secular in character and spirit, it does not defines Hindu or any other religion.
Article 25 in The Constitution Of India speaks on “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion”.
(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion,
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law,
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
Explanation I: The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.
Explanation II: In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly
The Hindu Marriage Act, on the other hand, does not defines a Hindu but states that the Act is applicable to the following:
(1) This Act applies
(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,
(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion, and
(c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.