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ICC Note:
An Indian state has passed a bill that would require for individual to file an application with local officials one month prior to conversion. It additionally requires that religious leaders report conversions, as well as apply for conversion ceremonies including detailing the location, date, and a list of those who will attend. The law would also increase prison sentences to three years for failing to register conversions. This types of laws are routinely abused to harass minorities in India and are an additional abuse of basic individual rights, farther questioning India’s commitment to religious freedom.  
7/23/2013 India (Morning Star News) – India’s Madhya Pradesh state has passed legislation that would send those who convert and their religious leaders to prison for failing to obtain permission from authorities at least one month prior to conversion.
The bill requires the governor’s signature before becoming law. Existing law in Madhya Pradesh requires those who convert to notify government officials after conversion; the new legislation not only requires prior permission but also obligates religious leaders to report the conversions, and it increases prison terms from one to three years for clergy and converts who fail to do so.
Under the bill in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state, religious leaders must fill out an application form giving details of the venue and date of conversion ceremonies and provide a list of names and addresses of those seeking conversion. This application has to be submitted at the district magistrate’s office a month before conversion.
The bill, which cleared Madhya Pradesh’s Legislative Assembly on July 10, includes a provision for a police inquiry on the conversion request. If the prospective converts are minors, women or members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes – disadvantaged people eligible for affirmative action benefits – the legislation stipulates a jail term of up to four years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees (US$1,680).
With India already on a “watch list” of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, India’s Christians were aghast at the bill’s level of interference in private personal belief. In August 2012, the Himachal Pradesh High Court struck down similar legislation.
“These laws are political gimmicks used to polarize voters along religious lines – it is common knowledge that these laws have already been misused to terrorize the minority Christian community across the country,” Tehmina Arora, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom India, told Morning Star News.

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