Rajasthan HC issues guidelines to check 'forced religious conversions'

The court also made it mandatory for those wishing to convert to inform the district collector or sub-divisional magistrate.

Jaipur: In a historic judgment, Rajasthan High Court has made it mandatory to inform district collector about religious conversions. On Friday, division bench Justice Gopal Krishna Vyas and Justice Virendra Kumar Mathur have also issued a 10-point guideline to check what it called “forcible conversion of religion”, adding that any inter-faith marriage that does not adhere to the directives could be struck down if challenged.

The guidelines came in the wake of the Rajasthan government’s plea to the judiciary to clarify the legal status of religion change and inter-faith marriages following the highly-publicised case of a brother challenging his sister’s marriage and conversion to Islam.

“We are of the opinion that while protecting the fundamental right of freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, some guidelines are necessary to check forcible conversion of religion because religion is a matter of faith and not of logic,” a bench of justices Gopal krishna Vyas and Virendra Kumar Mathur said.

The court allowed an adult person/people to convert to a religion of his or her choice with a condition that the individual should “satisfy himself/herself about niceties of conversion of religion”.

“Every citizen has a fundamental right of freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, but at the same time, it is the duty of every citizen to protect the feelings of other religion and not to act contrary to the provisions of Constitution,” the bench added.

The court also made it mandatory for those wishing to convert to inform the district collector or sub-divisional magistrate who will, in turn, put up the information on the office notice board the same day.

The court ruling has come in the wake of a case in which a Hindu girl Payal had converted to Islam to marry a Muslim boy. The bench was hearing this matter following a habeas corpus petition filed by the girl’s brother who had said that she was claiming that she had been “brainwashed” and was a victim of “love jihad”.

Though, the court had finally allowed the girl to go with her husband since she was an adult, it said that it would continue to hear the matter of religious conversion and inter faith marriage.

On Friday, the bench reiterated its earlier views in the case. “We are clarifying that this court is also cautious of the fact that Payal Singhvi and Faiz Modi are adults and this court deem it appropriate to declare that above guidelines shall not affect their rights as two individuals are adults and they are at liberty to live their life as per their choice,” the bench said.

The guidelines also make it mandatory for the newly-converted to solemnise the marriage after one week of conversion. The DM will take appropriate action under the law on information of forceful conversion, they said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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