Friday, August 31, 2012

Indian State's Requirement of Notifying State of Intended Conversion Ruled Unconstitutional

In Evangelical Fellowship of India v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (HC Himachal Pradesh, Aug. 30, 2012), a 2-judge panel the High Court of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh struck down as unconstitutional provisions in Himachal Pradesh's Freedom of Religion Act 2006 and the implementing rules that require a person intending to convert from one religion to another to give 30 days prior notice to the District Magistrate, except where the person is reverting to his original religion. The court said in part:
[E]ach and every citizen of this country has a right not only to follow his own beliefs but also has a right to change his beliefs....

A person's belief or religion is something very personal to him.  The State has no  right  to ask  a person  to disclose what is his personal belief....   Any conversion, which take place by “force”, “fraud” or “inducement”, must be dealt with strictly in accordance with law which we have held to be valid.  At the same time, the right to privacy and the right to change the belief of a citizen cannot be taken away under the specious plea that public order may be affected.
Times of India reports on the decision.