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Anti-Conversion Bill Declared Unconstitutional in Gujarat

Gospel for Asia
3/19/08 GUJARAT, INDIA (ANS) — Nawal Kishore Sharma, the governor of Gujarat, India, rejected an amendment to an anti-conversion bill that was primarily aimed at Christians. The bill is commonly used to keep Dalits and other low-caste members from choosing to follow Jesus.

Although the original bill was approved in 2003, rules for its execution were never framed, so it remained dormant and was never officially enforced over the past five years.

This most recent amendment, passed in 2006, is the Gujarat legislative assembly’s attempt to put the law into practice by finally nailing down the bill’s details.

“The provisions of this amendment bill violated Article 25 of the constitution, which guarantees to all citizens to freely profess, practice and propagate any religion,” said Governor Sharma. “The bill should be reconsidered for suitable amendments so as to bring its contents in conformity with the constitution.”

The amendment would have included Jain and Buddhist religions with the Hindu religion, while people choosing to convert to Christianity or Islam would have to seek government approval. Governor Sharma disagreed with these terms and sent the amendment back to the assembly for revision.