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DECODING THE CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY OF ANTI-CONVERSION LAWS IN INDIA

Submitted during Internship under Legal Specs by Shivam Goel.


Abstract

Anti-conversion laws, or anti-conversion legislations, are a set of judicial rules that restrict or prohibit the conversion of faith (proselytism) from one religion to another. It is a federal law in countries such as Algeria, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal. They are meant to prevent the forced conversion of individuals to different religions, and offenses are punishable by imprisonment and fines. In India, there is no federal law but nine states have sanctioned their own laws, such as Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Sri Lanka has prepared its legislation but has not yet enacted it..

Keywords: anti-conversion, proselytism freedom of religion


Introduction

The concept of secularism is enshrined in our Constitution in a variety of areas, including the Background, fundamental rights, and the DPSP. In India, religious freedom is protected in Part III of the constitution. A few parts of this freedom are guaranteed under Articles 25, 26, 27, and 28.

Article 25 explicitly states that “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freedom of religion, religion, and the right to freedom of religion, subject to the organization, morals, and health, and the other requirements of this Act.” However, it does not include the right to convert others to one's religion. Forced conversion violates everyone's right to "freedom of conscience."

Anti-conversion law is one of India's most controversial issues. Anti-reform laws have a long history in India, dating back to pre-independence times when a few governmental authorities introduced anti-reform laws to restrict missionary activities. Fear of statistical change is common among ruling communities around the world, and India is no different.

The author of the article will:

A. Provide a Brief History of Anti-Conversion Laws in India.

B. Officially comment on these rules and analyse the same.


A Brief History of Anti-Conversion Laws in India

Anti-conversion law is not new in India. Their history dates back to pre-independence times, though Odisha was the first to have one since independence in 1967. The law, dubbed the 'Orissa Religious Freedom Act, 1967,' prohibited "forced conversion" and required anyone to convert. by the faith in which they were born to inform the district magistrate.

In 1968, Madhya Pradesh became the second district to pass the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 1968, forbidding conversion. The term “recruitment” is not used in the definition of the Act; instead, the word “seduction” was used. "Attraction" was defined as an invitation to any kind of temptation, including; (i) presentation, either in cash or in kind; and (ii) greater profits, either financially or otherwise.

Similarly, the Gujarat Religious Freedom Act of 2003 requires the approval of a magistrate before any voluntary or automatic conversion.

The Uttarakhand government re-enacted a law against conversion in 2017, known as the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, for the first time declaring marriage illegal if it is for the sole purpose of reform.

Recently Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka re-enacted the Anti-Revolutionary Law drafted in line with the Odisha Freedom of Religion Act and other reforms.


Officially Comment on Anti-Conversion Laws in India

I. The Doctrine of Mystery:

From a void-for-vagueness perspective, any vague principle is invalid because it violates the provision of the proper procedure. It is a breach of due process as it does not make it clear to the parties concerned what exactly is illegal.

The Supreme Court of India established the concept of emptiness in the case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India. This theory was used to repeal Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, of 2000.

It is also important to note that, in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Baldeo Prasad, a six-judge panel of the Supreme Court overturned the Central Provinces Act and the Bear Goonda Act, 1946, on the grounds that it did not specify who the goonda was.

If we see a pattern of Anti-Transformation Laws, it suffers from ambiguity and will be forced to strike -

1. Odisha Status - Definition in Section 2 (d) of the Odisha Freedom of Religion Act, refers to the granting of any gift or satisfaction, be it in cash or in kind, and the provision of any benefit, financial or otherwise; thus, failing to give an accurate explanation of what the Inducement really is. The Orissa law was challenged in court, and in Yulitha Hyde v State of Orissa, the Supreme Court of Orissa overturned it on the grounds that it violated Article 25 of the Constitution, and that the law was passed on a matter beyond the jurisdiction of the State Legislature. to make law. Although the court agreed that compulsory conversion should be prohibited, it concluded that the term “incitement” in the law was very broad and inaccurate, and could be construed as a barrier to any proselytizing.

2. Karnataka Region - Recently, the Karnataka Opposition Bill for the Protection of Religious Freedom, 2021, commonly known as the anti-reform bill, was approved by the Karnataka cabinet, despite opposition from various quarters.

The definition of attraction in this Bill is very complex and goes to the core of Section 2 (1) (a) which reads as follows:

(a) "Allurement" means and includes the submission of any temptation in a manner, -

(iii) promise to marry; or

(v) expose the practice, rituals and ceremonies of any religious group in a harmful manner in relation to another religion; or

(vi) to glorify one religion against another.”

What do the last two paragraphs really mean?

The author feels that there is almost no similarity in how the religious feelings of others might affect one's choice of religion as stated in Section 2 (1) (a) (v), this essentially violates the fundamental doctrine of Article 25 (Freedom). the exercise of human religion) which includes freedom of conscience.

It is noteworthy that, to worship one religion against another means to offend religious sentiments as mentioned in Section 2 (1) (a) (vi) is not mentioned - whose feelings are considered here?

Incorporating those vague terms into law invites further harassment and harassment of those who want to choose someone you may not approve of. This is nothing more than a violation of personal and agency independence, and it ignores how the Supreme Court recognized these decisions as infringing on the right to privacy in both the right to privacy and Hadiya's case.

As SC holds deep; “Belief and faith, as well as faith or non-belief, are at the heart of constitutional freedom. The constitution applies to both believers and atheists. The ability of every individual to pursue a particular lifestyle or belief in which he or she chooses to adhere is protected by the Constitution. The essential elements of identifying clothes and food, thoughts and ideas, love and relationships, and love and relationships.”


II. Blatant violation of the right to privacy:

Under all the Anti-Conversion Laws in India, there is a requirement for a person wishing to convert his or her faith to give notice to the district magistrate. The magistrate will then present the proposal to the public and invite comments. This advertising need, in and of itself, is offended by the fundamental right now to privacy. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Himachal Pradesh set aside a similar law requiring public notice of conversion, ruling that a person has both the right to freedom of conscience and the right to privacy. Deepak Gupta, J. said that "a person not only has freedom of conscience, belief, but also the right to keep his or her beliefs confidential and that the state must have strong reasons and violate the individual's right to privacy".

In addition, a thorough study of the historical case of the Puttswamy of the Supreme Court, in which the authenticity of a person's decision was found to be a natural part of the right to privacy, would reveal that sections dealing with the requirement to seek permission from the District Magistrate violate the Puttaswamy dicta. Four times the balance test has been approved in a judgment written by Kaul, J., which must be passed in order to authorize the State's entry into human privacy. "There must be procedural protection against the misuse of such interference," he said, among other reasons. Unfortunately, there are no procedural protections available to prevent the process from bringing these laws into line with Puttaswamy.

In summary, Chandrachud, J. explained the right to secrecy in the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India as it involves the freedom to make personal decisions, including the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, home, and sex. umumo. A year later, in the case of Shafin Jahan v. Ashokan K.M., the Supreme Court declared the right to marry the person of one's choice as a fundamental right. “A person's right to choose a mate for life is not violated by any consideration of faith”; he said. In this case it was decided that the government or the law would not impose a decision on our partners or restrict one's free will in these circumstances. Recognition of confidential decisions is not based on public acceptance. This critical decision of the Supreme Court of India should be applauded for its ongoing decision which preserves the foundations of our Constitution, which proves to be an important legal criticism in the alarming efforts of many provinces to promote sectarian divisions in questionable law.


Authors contention

Anti-conversion law is adopted at the state level to limit religious reform. All of these rules make it almost impossible for anyone to change his beliefs, voluntarily or forcibly. When people come from an organized society or nation, the consequences of breaking the law may range from fines to prison or even severe penalties.

In conclusion, Article 25 of the Constitution of India, commonly known as the Corner-Stone of Democracy, declares the country as a country, giving everyone the right to freedom of conscience and the right to freedom of religion. Legal protection comes before social norms and values. Personal freedom and the right to life are constitutional and human rights. The right that has been enacted as a result of many anti-reform laws is the freedom to choose one's religion, which is clearly not allowed in these laws. It should be people's choice to choose their religion.


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