In the modern world, it is very difficult to exclude religion from today's
political structure. At the time of first war of independence, war was fought on
the basis of religion and after 6 decades of war the country was divided on the
basis of religion. Founding members of the constitution war were well known for
the fact of hazardous outcomes and use of religious conflict in politics thus
they made adequate measures and did not put secularism in the preamble of the
Uttar Pradesh government implements this ordinance and argues that this is the
lawful ordinance. The ordinance was required by our society due to the
exponential rise of the crime about unlawful conversion the person belonging to
the particular community decoy or cajole a girl/woman belonging to a different
religion or community for the sole purpose to convert the religion through fraud
or allurement and also forceful religious conversions under the garb of love.
Now our topic of discussion is how we should implement this law at the national
level and the legal difficulties in it.
- What are fundamental rights which are being considered in ordinance that
may be challenged in the court of law?
- Analysis of provisions of ordinances that are/may be challenged in the
court of law and on grounds?
The ordinance was challenged or questioned by many persons that it violates
personal laws of many religions but Ordinance doesn't infringe any personal law
of any community.
Because no personal law suggests converting someone's religion forcefully.
Ordinance doesn't specify or give hints that this ordinance was made for any
particular religion. In light of recent event where there have been lot of
murders, rape and other heinous acts in the name of conversion, it has become a
matter of public interest.
Ordinance has rational nexus and it doesn't discriminate on religion and apply
equally to every person of all faiths. It is not arbitrary in any manner.
Ordinance is absolutely fine.
It is just to restore social order which is in constant flux as there has been a
rise in the number of forceful conversions.
This ordinance is not violative of fundamental rights, the ordinance which was
required by our society due to the exponential rise of the crime pertaining to
unlawful conversion the person belonging to the particular community lure or
entice a girl/women belonging to a different religion or community for the sole
purpose to convert the religion by means of fraud or allurement and also
forceful religious conversions under the garb of love.
There is direct nexus between the basis of classification of the ordinance and
the object intended to be achieved therefore mere differentiation or inequality
of treatment does not per se amount to discrimination within the inhibition of
equal protection clause.
Should we implement this ordinance at the national level? What will be its
- Critical analysis of secularism and anti-conversion law
- Features of Indian Secularism
Being a secular country, India doesn't have any law in a strict sense which
prohibits states from creating laws on religion for the benefit of society.
Secularism is a way of life in which people's rights and talents are not judged
by their religious beliefs. Secularism has been the basis of most Western
democracies since 1945. However, a number of countries have adopted secularism
as a means to protect the rights of minorities against dominant majorities to
create a more equal society In India, secularism translates to equal respect
for all religions. The main idea of secularism in India is to treat equally all
the religious ideologies and their followers without any discrimination.In India, secularism does not necessitate a complete freedom from religion; the two
can interact within legally defined boundaries. It just requires the government
to respect individuals of all faiths without discrimination.
- Existing Anti-Conversion Laws And Their Impact
The first state which implemented anti-conversion law was Orissa in 1967 it was
the orissa freedom of religion act, 1967 this act prohibits the conversion on
the basis of fraud, inducement, minor or forcible conversion, and then an act
was passed by Madhya Pradesh state legislature named Madhya Pradesh Dharm
swatantrata adhiniyam and both acts were implemented in same year.
In case of rev. Stainislaus vs state of Madhya Pradesh upheld the validity of
both acts and said:
right to propagate one's religion cannot impinge on the
freedom of conscience of other citizens and it does not grant to convert another
person to one's own religion and it gives grounds to many states to pass
legislation on this matter.
Arunachal Pradesh passed the legislature named Arunachal Pradesh freedom of
religion act,1978. Though it is not enacted yet because the government had not
framed rules for it.Chhattisgarh Government after separation from Madhya Pradesh
retained anti conversion law and named it Chhattisgarh freedom of religion
Gujarat legislature also passed the anti conversion law named freedom of
religion act,2003 under the then CM Narendra modi. In 2018 uttarakhand also
passed a law on this matter named Uttarakhand freedom of religion act 2018.
Himachal Pradesh freedom of religion act, 2006 was enforced in 2017. The Jharkhand assembly also passed a law on this called the Jharkhand freedom of
religion bill 2017. In 2020 the MP's government passed an ordinance with
improvisations that wasn't available in before's legislation.
- Did The Ordinance's Provisions Violate The Idea Of Secularism?
In case of a religious conversion there should be a change of heart and honest
conviction in the tenets of the new religion in lieu of tenets of the original
religion. Religion, faith or devotion are not easily interchangeable.
court judgement before supreme court's decision in rev. Stanislaus vs State of
Madhya Pradesh became the base for legislature for other states.
Morality under article 25(1) is basically about four components of the
constitution : justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, which is in the preamble
since it is enacted.
All four of them have symbolic meaning. Justice has its socio-economic and
political dimensions and liberty shows in the matter of thought, expression
,belief, faith,worship, equality deals with status and opportunity amongst
citizens and fraternity with dignity of human life. secularism was added with
these four which gives people freedom of conscience to believe or not to
believe. Conscience is based on the same provision of the constitution which is
made for non-believer, as it is for worshipers.
The founding faith upon which
the constitution is based is the belief that it is in the dignity of each
individual that the pursuit of happiness is founded. No right is absolute
hence, in any event, the State can always legislate a reasonable restriction to
protect and effectuate a compelling State interest, like it may while
restricting any other fundamental right. India is a secular nation but this
doesn't mean that India is an atheist country. Secularism's mere meaning is to
treat all religions equally and equality in no sense gives right to any religion
to convert someone's religion.
Meaning of the phrase profess a religion
under article 25 is not merely
entering into a religious state or converting to a religion. A declaration that
he is entering into this religion is not enough. Meaning of the word profess
is given in Webster's dictionary:
to avow publicly, to make an open declaration......to declare one's belief in.
Meaning of the Oxford dictionary is also almost the same. If a public
declaration is made by a person that he has ceased to belong to his old religion
and has accepted another religion he will be taken as professing the other
religion. In the face of such an open declaration it would be idle to enquire
further as to whether the conversion to another religion was efficacious.
Article 25 talks about the rights of freedom of religion to every citizen. Aim
of this right is to maintain secularism in India. This is also mentioned in
article 14-Equality before law. Everyone has freedom to practice, propagate,
and preach religion of their own choice. But this article doesn't give any
right to convert someone's religion to their religion by any fraudulent means.
Conversion is only allowed in the constitution under practice of religion
if someone wants to change it by change of faith. Article 25(2)clearly says that
nothing can prevent states to create laws for the welfare of society. And this
ordinance is to restore a social order which is always in flux with a number of
constant conversions. And ordinance applies to everyone irrespective of their
Article 44 is based on the concept that there is no necessary connection between
religion and personal law in a civilised society. Article 25 guarantees
religious freedom whereas Article 44 seeks to divest religion from social
relations and personal law. Marriage, succession and like matters of a secular
character cannot be brought within the guarantee enshrined under Articles 25, 26
and 27. Likewise this ordinance also tries to achieve the same.
Narasu Appa judgement that Personal laws are beyond the pale of part III of the
Constitution cannot be struck down by the Supreme Court which was overruled in
the Sabarimala judgement. Hence the State can make laws on personal laws if it
is of public interest or morality. And this ordinance was the need of the
society to stop these fraudulent mass conversions happening in the state.
As we earlier mentioned that some of the state laws were ultravirus and some
were not enforced yet. Though many states had started to implement it newly by
ordinances or laws from state legislature and they were trying to remove flaws
that were before there. but implementation of different legislation in different
states would create confusion and difficulties in the governance of states.
Many times bills were introduced in parliament but it couldn't pass due to lack
of majority. In 1954,it was the first time when a bill was introduced for
enactment of this kind of law at national level which is licensing of
missionaries and the registration of conversion with government officials But
it didn't get majority.
Then in 1960 a bill was proposed in Lok Sabha for checking the conversion of
Hindus to non-Indian religions Then this was followed by a bill in 1979 which is
the freedom of religion bill
. Unfortunately, these bills were not passed in
the house of people because of confrontation between the opposing parties.
Here are few suggestions that would help it better to implement it on
- Implementing a national law with better legislation to avoid
discriminatory provision With better language and law commission should
research and remove misuse and conflicting provisions of the law.
Religious thoughts and beliefs are important factors for shaping up human
conduct. Globally, one of the major crises is the war fought in the name of
religion. Although there are few religions in which propagation as a means of
conversion is central, this does not mean that this right is inalienable.
Restrictions on such conversion rights can still be imposed under Article 25(1)
of the Constitution. However, if a person willingly accepts his religious
conversion, still, the state must ensure no social disruption due to his new
The society fabric along with the person should be protected by the state as the
state has the responsibility to respect and preserve individual rights. Though
religious freedom is essential for the evolution of human intellect and
personality, it should not be used as the only criterion for declaring the Acts
Thus this act is not violation of any law and allegations were baseless,act
supports the equality clause and everyone's decisional autonomy under
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Ankur Singh
Authentication No: OT129316496874-20-1021