Blog 1 - Celebrating Scholarship on the Indian Constitution

Religious Freedom under the Personal Law System – Farrah Ahmed

Farrah Ahmed

My work is focussed on the values and aspirations of the Indian constitution. The Constitution aims for equality, an end to subordination, non-arbitrary government, religious freedom, secularism and fraternity (among other important values). But how should we understand these values and the demands they make of us? How do we bring them life? How do our current legal and political arrangements fall short of them? I draw on law, history and philosophy to try to offer answers.

The personal law system is hugely controversial and the subject of fierce debates. This book addresses a vital issue that has received inadequate attention in these debates: the impact of the personal law system on religious freedom. Drawing on scholarship on the legal reform of the personal law system, as well as philosophical literature on multiculturalism, autonomy, and religious freedom, this book persuasively argues that the personal law system harms religious freedom. Several reform proposals are considered, including modifications of the personal law system, a move towards a milletsystem, ‘internal’ reform of individual personal laws, the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code, and a move towards religious alternative dispute resolution.