Home International Cases Rev. Stainislaus v State of Madhya Pradesh & Others

Supreme Court of India
Ray, A. N. (CJ) Beg, M, Hameedullahsarkaria, J Sarkaria, Ranjit Singh, J Shingal, P.N. J Singh, Jaswant, J
Key words
Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam 1968, Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967
Cases referred to
  1. Ratilal Panachand Gandhi v. The State of Bombay [1954] SC 
  2. Thappar v. The State of Madras [1950] SCR 594
  3. Ramjilal Modi v. State of U.P. [1957] SCR 
  4. Arun Ghosh v. State of West Bengal [1966] 1 SCR 709
Counsel who appeared
Date of Decision
Judgement by Name of Judge/s
Ray, A. N. (CJ)
Noteworthy information relating to the case


Other information


Rev. Stainislaus v State of Madhya Pradesh & Others

1977 AIR 908, 1977 SCR (2) 611, 1977 SCC (1) 677

Facts of the case

The primary fact in issue was whether Article 25 (1) of the Indian Constitution, which empowers every Indian citizen to freely practice, profess and propagate one’s religion within the prescribed limits of the law, also includes the right to ‘convert’ any person to the former’s faith

Findings related to FoRB

The right to propagate one’s religion means a right to communicate a person’s belief to another person or to expose tenets of that faith and does not include the right to ‘convert’ any person to the former’s faith. Therefore, the right to convert is exempted and does not enjoy legal protection under the right to freedom of religion enshrined in the constitution.


The word ‘propagate’ has been used in the Article as meaning to transmit or spread from person to person or from place to place. The Article does not grant right to convert other person to one’s own religion but to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets.


As to the applicability of Article 25, the Court highlighted that the freedom of religion enshrined in the Article is not guaranteed in respect of one religion only but covers all        religions alike which can be properly enjoyed by a person        if he exercises his right in a manner commensurate with the        like freedom of persons following other religion.  What   is        freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure        and there can, therefore, be no such thing as a fundamental        right to convert any person to one’s own religion.


The Court held that Article 25(1) provides freedom of conscience to every citizen, but purposely converting another person to one’s religion in the pretext of spreading the tenets of that religion, infringes the essence of ‘freedom to conscience’ guaranteed by the constitution. 


Therefore, if a person wants to adopt any other religion, valid reasons must be produced for such conversion which shall be accompanied by free will.