GANDHINAGAR: From now on, anyone wishing to convert will have to tell the government why they were doing it and for how long they had been following the religion which they were renouncing, failing which, they will be declared offenders and prosecuted under criminal laws.
Forced conversion could land those responsible a three-year jail term. This clause is contained in the rules of the anti-conversion law which came into effect on April 1.
The new law is called Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, and took five years to be implemented because of the failure of the state government to come up with rules on the kind of information to be provided when applying for permission to convert to any religion.
The Bill confirms that Jainism and Buddhism are not sub-sects of Hinduism. The rules have been published in the Gujarat government gazette.
The rules make it obligatory for a priest seeking to convert someone from one religion to another to take prior permission of the district magistrate in order to avoid police action.
The priest, in fact, will have to sign a detailed form providing personal information on the person whom she/he wishes to convert, whether the one sought to be converted is a minor, a member of Scheduled Caste
or Tribe, her/his marital status, occupation and monthly income.
Anyone willing to convert will have to apply to the district magistrate a month before the rituals and give details on the place of conversion, time and reason.
After getting converted, the person will have to obligatorily provide information within 10 days on the rites to the district magistrate, reason for conversion, the name of the priest who has carried out the ritual and full details of the persons who took part in the ceremony.
The district magistrate will have to send a quarterly report to the government listing the number of applications for prior permission, comparative statistics of the earlier quarter, reasons for granting or not granting permission, number of conversions, and number of actions against offenders.