While all persons have a constitutionally protected fundamental right to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion in Article 25(1) , there is no corresponding constitutionally protected group right.
Article 26 does allow every ‘religious denomination’ the freedom to manage its own religious affairs. For the main part, Indian cases have focused on identifying when a group can be described as a religious denomination rather than assessing what counts as a religious matter.
For too long the Indian court has circumscribed the scope of the Article 25 right through the ‘essential practices test’. The language used in determining an ‘essential practice’ suggests that the court is particularly concerned with a groups right to practice their religion. (See Shayara Bano or Sabarimala)
The core question in recent cases is whether the Article 26 freedom allows religious denominations to control the Article 25 individuals right to practice their religion? Much progress can be made by focusing sharply on this question.