(Daily News) – The Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of the Bill titled “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion,” on August 6. The Bench will comprise Justices T.B. Weerasuriya, Nimal Dissanayake and Raja Fernando. Twenty one petitioners stated that the Bill titled “An Act to provide for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by use of force, allurement or by fraudulent means and for matters incidental therewith or incidental thereto” had been placed on the Order Paper on July 21 as a private Bill of parliamentarian Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera.
Petitioners alleged that Clause 2 of the Bill would prohibit a person from converting from one religion to another by means of force, allurement or by any fraudulent means. They stated that “the use of force, fraud or allurement” was a fetter placed on the freedoms guaranteed under the Article 10. They argued that if the freedoms guaranteed under the Article 10 was to be given effect to, such fetters should not be imposed on the exercise of such freedoms. Petitioners sought a court determination that the Bill was not consistent with the Constitution and needed to be passed by a two third special majority of the whole number of Parliament members.
Meanwhile 20 intervenient-petitioners including six Buddhist monks of the Jathika Hela Urumaya sought to intervene on the basis that if the provisions in the Bill would be held to be inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, their right to the Freedom of thought and the Religion would be affected. They state that non-governmental organizations funded by foreign organizations were engaged in the forcible conversions in the country for decades. They claim that such conversions violated their right to the Freedom of Thought and the Religion guaranteed under the Article 10 and 14 of the Constitution. They stated that the Bill “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion” was in accordance with the Constitution and the provisions of the International Human Rights Convention to which Sri Lanka was a signatory. The petitioners stated that they were associated with the campaign to bring legislations against wrongful and unethical conversions.