Anti – conversion Law
As conversion is a Human right Anti – conversion law does not mean that no one can change his religion it means any one can change his religion with certain limitations. Anti conversion law does not ban voluntary conversion means any one can change his religion if she is willing to do so . It bans only forced or involuntary conversions.
Its objective is to punish all who force or allure or prevent someone to change religion.
There is no central anti-conversion law. Because it is totally a state matter and states are free to make such law if centre make such law it will pose a question mark on secular nature of Indian State .At the state level, Freedom of Religion Acts have been enacted to regulate religious conversions carried out by force, fraud, or other inducements,.The states that have enacted anti-conversion laws make religious conversion by force or allurement a punishable offence. In 1967 Odisha became the first state to enact this law. There are 8 states with such laws those are:-
1. Arunachala Pradesh
3. Madhya Pradesh
6. Himachal Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh will be the next to adopt this anti conversion Law. There are slight changes in Law of states but its core concept is same in every state.
Laws restricting religious conversions were originally introduced by princely states headed by Hindu royal families during the British colonial period — particularly during the latter half of the 1930s and 1940s because at that time many Hindus were converting to Christianity . There were many reason behind these conversion like Christian were considered as superior due to British influence and they have some extra benefits in comparison to Hindus that’s why to protect Hinduism and Hindu followers these conversion laws were necessary. Even after independence many laws related to conversion were enacted but no law became successful. First, the Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill was introduced in 1954, which sought to enforce “licensing of missionaries and the registration of conversion with government official”.
In 1980s this law was considered against Muslims.
Procedure for religious conversion
There is a proper procedure to convert our religion we can not directly declare ourselves Hindu or Muslim . We have to give a prior notice of 30 days in court or office of district magistrate that we want to convert our religion. Then the magistrate can grant us permission or reject our appeal after observing the reason behind this conversion.
Penalties for breaching the laws can range from monetary fines to imprisonment, with punishments ranging from one to three years of imprisonment and fines from 5,000 to 50,000 Indian rupees (about US$74 to $735). Some of the laws provide for stiffer penalties if women, children, or members of scheduled castes or schedule tribes (SC/ST) are being converted.
• Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh
In this case supreme court bench said that Freedom of religion is our fundamental right as mentioned in article 25. And anyone can propagate any religion But it does not means that we have right to conversion. Which means that no one can force or induce anyone to convert his religion. There must be a valid reason for conversion.
• Sarla mudgal vs union of India
In this case it was held that conversion to Islam only to practice polygamy is illegal as some people adapt Islam for marring more than once. There should be Faith and dedication towards that religion. Even if the person is converting to Islam voluntarily without any force and inducement still this conversion is invalid because he has no faith in Islam he is accepting only for marriage. Everyone has right to convert but not without Faith .