This article describes the competing models of secularism that have been debated and contested in postcolonial India. I focus on the constitutional legal discourse and judicial pronouncements on the meaning of secularism in India and on the increasing influence of the Hindu Right—a conservative and religious political movement seeking to set up India as a Hindu state—on shaping the contours of secularism in contemporary law. The struggle over the meaning of secularism came to a head in an Indian High Court decision in 2010. The case involved a dispute over the legal title to a piece of land in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya, where a sixteenth-century mosque once stood and was destroyed by the mobs of the Hindu Right, and the Hindu Right’s claim that the site marks the spot where the Hindu god Ram was born. The case reveals how the right to freedom of religion has been used to establish and reinforce Hindu majoritarianism through secular law in India.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.