Thursday, June 14, 2007

MP anti-conversion law unconstitutional: Attorney General

June 12,2007

MP anti-conversion law unconstitutional: Attorney General

According to sources in the state government, Attorney General Milon Banerjee, central government’s chief legal advisor, has given his opinion on the request of state governor Balram Jakhar. The latter had sought Banerjee’s opinion on the amendments which was criticized by the Church leadership and other secular activists as anti-Constitutional.

The governor is yet to grant his assent to the crucial amendment.

A state government official told ICNS that they were waiting for the governor’s “nod to the amendment”, but was ready to face “any eventuality”.

Last year’s amendment passed by the BJP government makes it compulsory on individuals who wish to convert to a religion to take prior approval from the local district administration. If an individual fails to notify the authorities and obtain permission severe punishments can be imposed on him/her.

The amendment also makes it compulsory on those conducting the conversion ceremony to inform the district magistrate a month before it, and give him the details including the venue and time of the ceremony, and the names and addresses of those converting.

Once the district magistrate is informed, under the new amendment, elaborate police verification would be carried out and only on a positive report from the police the magistrate would give his nod for the ceremony.

Madhya Pradesh was one of the first state governments to introduce an act in 1968 on religious conversions, then by a Congress government. It was then amended last year by the BJP government.

However, as reported by the Indian Catholic recently, the National Minorities Commission is yet to receive any reply from the central Indian state to prove that there is any large-scale conversion going on in Madhya Pradesh. The Commission has been asking state governments where such laws are in existence about the data regarding violators.