On 19th July 2023,, the Telangana High Court, presided by Justice Lalitha Kanneganti, pronounced its judgment in Writ Petition of 2021 today, upholding citizens’ right to declare “no religion” and “no caste” in their child’s birth certificate.
The case involved a couple, Sandepu Swaroopa and another, who belonged to two different religions and desired not to specify any religious or caste identity for their child in the birth certificate. The petitioners argued that such compulsion violated the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution and impinged upon their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, 21, and 25.
After considering the arguments presented by both sides, Justice Lalitha Kanneganti emphasized the importance of respecting citizens’ freedom of conscience and the right to profess or not profess any religion. Quoting Article 25 of the Constitution, she stated, “Subject to public order, morality, and health, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion.”
The Court observed that the Constitution of India is an organic and living document that must adapt to the changing needs of society.
Justice Kanneganti further stated, “It is the responsibility of all concerned to transform the constitutional idealism into reality. The petitioners have every right not to follow or profess any religion and such right is implicit in Article 25 of the Constitution of India.”
Accordingly, the High Court allowed the writ petition and directed the respondents to provide a column for “no religion” and “no caste” in the online application format for birth certificates. The Court stressed that citizens have the right to choose not to specify their religion or caste in official documents.
As a result of this ruling, parents in Telangana now have the option to specify “no religion” and “no caste” for their children in birth certificates, thereby promoting a more inclusive and diverse society.
Case Name: Sandepu Swaroopa and another Vs Union of India
Case No.: WRIT PETITION NO.27398 OF 2021
Bench: Justice Lalitha Kanneganti