Anti-conversion law – Chandigarh

                                         Anti-conversion law-  Chandigarh

Anti-conversion law means not to convert to another religion from the religion of one’s forefathers. Mostly, the people belonging to scheduled caste/ schedule tribes are allured to convert to other religion women and children are also the main target who lacks some support.

In India four major religions are practised. These are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

  1. 79.80% of population of India is Hindu 
  2. 14.23% is Muslim
  3. 2.30% is Christian
  4. 1.72% is Sikh
  5. 0.70% is Buddhist
  6. 0.37% is Jain

History of law relating to anti conversion relates back to 1930. The princely State of Kota, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Raigarh, Patna, surguja, Udaipur and Kalahandi had anti conversion law at times. Those were:

  1. Raigarh State Conversion Act 1936
  2. The Surguja State Apostasy Act 1942
  3. Udaipur Anti Conversion Act 1946

After the independence several anti-conversion bills were introduced in Parliament, but those could not be passed due to lack of majority. Ist Bill was introduced in 1954 known as Indian conversion (regulation and registration) Bill. Second one was introduced in 1960. Third one was introduced in 1979 known as Freedom of Religion Bill. All the Bills lacked the parliament support.

Since, the subject we are discussing  fell within the State list, therefore its legislation at central level was blocked.

It is thereafter that eight states enacted anti conversion laws. These states are:

  1. Odisha
  2. Madhya Pradesh
  3. Arunachal Pradesh
  4. Chhattisgarh
  5. Gujrat
  6. Himachal Pradesh
  7. Jharkhand 
  8. Uttarakhand

Other states were also considering to frame such laws

Such laws are meant to prevent conversion by force or fraudulent means, allurement or inducement

The conversion leads to punishment ranging from one to three years and fine from 5,000/ to 50000/.

The first state to legislate on the subject was Odisha that framed law in 1967 called “THE ORISSA FREEDOM OF RELIGION ACT”. Section 3 of the Act reads that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means nor shall any person abet such conversions.

  1. ‘Conversion’ here means ‘renouncing one religion and adopting another
  2. ‘Force’ as defined includes show of force or threat of injury including the threat of divine displeasure or social excommunication
  3. ‘Inducement’ as is referred to in section 3 as aforesaid means the offer of any gift or rectification either in cash or kind and it includes grant of any benefit either pecuniary or otherwise 
  4. ‘Fraud’ means any inducement, misrepresentation or any other fraudulent contrivance

Chandigarh Anti Conversion Law

The offence under the act is retained as cognizable one, there by authorising the police to arrest such offenders without warrant

However, the investigation under the act can be carried out by the police officer of the rank of inspector.

Similar provisions were retained by other states which Enacted Anti-Conversion Law. 

Madhya Pradesh ‘FREEDOM OF RELIGION ACT 1968’

Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh were next to implement in 1978 

Tamil Nadu enacted in 2002

Gujrat enacted in 2003

Himachal Pradesh was next to enact the law in 2006

Rajasthan also enacted similar law in 2006

Jharkhand enacted the similar law in 2017

The law enacted by Uttarakhand contained a provision on marriage. It says 

‘Any marriage which was done for the sole purpose of conversion by the name of one religion either by converting himself before or after marriage or by converting the women before or after marriage may be declared null and void by the family court or where family court is not established, the court having jurisdiction to try such cases on a petition presented by either party hereto against the other party of the marriage.’

The supreme court upheld the validity of the Odisha ‘FREEDOM OF RELIGION ACT 1967’ and Madhya Pradesh ‘DHARMA SWATANTRAYA ADHINIYAM 1968’ in case titled as ‘REV STAINISLAM V. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH (1977) SCC 677  

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