Legal Status of the Brahmo (Adi Dharma) Religion

In 1901 (Bhagwan Koer & Ors v J.C.Bose & Ors, 31 Cal 11, 30 ELR IA 249) the Privy Council (Britain's highest judicial authority) upholds the finding of the High Court of the Punjab that the vast majority of Brahmo religionists are not Hindus and have their own religion unlike Sikhs ("who are Hindu and nothing but Hindus"). Debendranath Tagore was held to be the founder of the Brahmo religion. The Court distinguished Brahmo "religionists" from "followers" of the Brahmo Samaj who continue to retain their Hinduism.

In 1916 the Indian Civil Services Ethnography Administration Surveyor R.V. Russell examines in detail and publishes that Brahmo Samaj is indeed a Religion (and differentiates it from "sects")

In 1949 the Government of India passes the "Hindu Marriages Validity Act". Despite discussion in Parliament Brahmos are not brought within the scope of this Law.

In 1955 the Government of India passes the "Hindu Code" (a comprehensive set of laws for Hindus). Again despite discussion in Parliament, Brahmo religionists are not brought within the scope of these laws which, however, now become applicable to Hindus who are also followers of the Brahmo Samaj .

In 2002, Bangladesh enacted a law recognising Brahmo religionists and Brahmo marriages to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.

On 05.May.2004 the Supreme Court of India by order of the Chief Justice dismissed the Government of West Bengal's 30 year litigation to get Brahmos classified as Hindus. The matter had previously been heard by an 11 Judge Constitution Bench of the Court (the second largest bench in the Court's history).