The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, was just accepted by the Haryana cabinet. It aims to make it illegal to convert to any other religion through deception, intimidation, inducement, compulsion, temptation, matrimony, or indeed any other illegitimate tactics. In the context of juveniles, ladies, scheduled castes, and tribes, it imposes harsher penalties for these kinds of religious transformations. It states that the offender who is committing these kinds of religious switchover bears the standard of evidence. According to this proposed legislation, anyone switching from one religious doctrine to some other must report a proclamation to the competent authorities stating that the transformation wasn’t effected via falsification, compulsion, intimidations, disproportionate influence, persuasion, temptation, or indeed any other deceptive means, or by marital relationship or for marital relationship, and the competent authority will investigate onto it. Any wedding proved to have already been solemnized by the deception of religious doctrine shall be declared invalid and is considered void, according to this Draft Bill.
- Undetermined And Hazy Phraseology- Falsification, intimidation, deception, and temptation are all terms that are ambiguous and subject to misinterpretation. Such concepts are either ambiguous or overly general, encompassing topics other than religious liberty preservation.
- Contradictory to the Racial Minorities- Another concern is that current anti-conversion legislation focuses primarily on the banning of religious switchover as a means of achieving religious liberty. This restrictive proposal’s wide terminology, on the other hand, could be exploited by authorities to subjugate and allow discrimination against marginalized groups.
- Contradictory to the Secular Expressions– These regulations may jeopardize India’s liberal integrity as well as global perceptions of our culture’s inherent ethics and judicial framework.
- Article 25 of the Indian Constitution protects the freedom to proclaim, preach, and follow a religion, as well as the right of all religious groups to conduct their operations in religious matters, open to public order, decency, and healthcare.
- Nevertheless, no one should ever be compelled to obey their religious views, and nobody should be coerced to practice any religion against their own will. There has never been any governmental statute that prohibits or regulates religious swaps.
- However, since 1954, Private Member Bills to govern religious transfers have been submitted in (and yet never adopted by) Parliament several times.
- In addition, the Union Law Ministry stated in 2015 that Parliament lacks the legislative authority to implement anti-conversion regulations.
- Numerous states have adopted ‘Freedom of Religion’ legislation to limit religious alteration, bound by power, deceit, or compulsion.
- In various judgments, the Supreme Court of India has decided that perhaps the state and courts have no authority over an adult’s inherent right to choose a life partner whom they want to marry.
- Both in Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal instances, the Supreme Court of India ruled that religious transformations performed without the need of a genuine belief and solely for the goal of acquiring a lawful advantage is invalid.
- In the Allahabad High Court case of Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar 2020, a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty included the ability to pick a mate or stay with someone of one’s preference (Article 21).
The basic freedom to proclaim, practise, and promote one’s religion is guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution. The individual right to freedom of conscience and religion, on the other hand, cannot be used to create a constitutional right to proselytize, because religious freedom belongs equivalently to the person turning and the person seeking to be changed. Despite this, numerous incidents of religious transformations, both collective and individual, have occurred. In Hadiya Judgement (2017), The Court ruled that major parts of identification are clothing and food, thoughts and philosophies, romance and relationship, and love and engagement. Neither the state nor the law may impose a partner’s decision or restrict a person’s freedom of choice in these situations. Even in K.S. Puttaswamy Privacy Judgement, the court ruled that individual autonomy was the person’s ability to take important decisions on vital concerns of life.
In 1954, the very first Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill was established in post-independence India, to enforce “missionary licensure and transformation enrollment with government officials.” This bill was voted down. The Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill was introduced in 1960 as a result of this. The bill attempted to prevent Hindus from converting to ‘non-Indian religions,’ which included Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, according to the bill’s description. In 1979, the Freedom of Religion Act sought “governmental restrictions on inter-religious transformation.” These bills failed due to a lack of a clear majority.
There is an immediate need for stability. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all of us have the right to religious freedom, including the ability to change our devotion. Because it is a state matter, the Centre can create a legislative framework, such as contract farming provisions. States must not include any imprecise or misleading clauses in anti-conversion legislation for people who seek to switch off their very own free will. Anti-conversion legislation should also include a paragraph that specifies the legal procedures for conversion by minority community entities. People must also be informed on the laws and methods of forcible conversions, such as induction or seduction. Governments enacting such laws must guarantee that they do not restrict people’s fundamental rights or obstruct democratic consolidation; rather, these regulations must strike the right balance between liberties and false transformations.
Author(s) Name: Surjit Raiguru (Symbiosis International University, Pune)