September 18, 2012
Court in India's Most Hindu State Partially Repeals Anti-Conversion Law
Evangelical Fellowship of India wins court victory.
A state high court recently ruled in favor of greater religious freedom in India's most Hindu state, striking down certain restrictions outlined in Himachal Pradesh's Freedom of Religion Act 2006 as unconstitutional.
The act previously required that individuals in the northern Indian state, which borders Kashmir, wishing to convert to a different religion give 30 days notice to the district magistrate. However, in response to a legal challenge by the Evangelical Fellowship of India, a two-judge panel ruled that every Indian citizen "has a right not only to follow his own beliefs but also has a right to change his beliefs."
This is only a partial repeal of the act, and the ruling applies only to Himachal Pradesh. Other Indian states still enforce similar policies.
Under the law, which has been referred to as an "anti-conversion" law, the district magistrate could file a police case if the conversion was forced or without proper notice. In addition, those who failed to give notice also faced a 1,000-rupee fine. However, the court ruled that "the remedy proposed by the state may prove to be more harmful than the problem."