Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NCM to submit its report on anti-conversion law to Centre soon

New Delhi, Jan 14: The National Commission for Minorities(NCM) will soon present before the Centre a report on the anti-religious conversion laws passed by various states

It was few months ago that the Centre had asked the NCM to study all the legislations on religious conversions passed by Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to examine as to what extent they are infringing on the rights of minorities.

''Our effort is to submit the report before Parliament session begins in February,'' NCM member Harcharan Josh told UNI.

He said the Commission had deliberated over the matter and then referred the task to the International Law Institute.

Mr Josh said the Law Institute had been asked to give its opinion within 15 days, and they expected to receive the report within a week.

The issue of state legislations on religious conversions became controversial again when the Gujarat Assembly last year passed a Bill amending its anti-conversion law--the Freedom of Religion Act 2003--which says that Jainism and Buddhism shall be taken as denominations of Hinduism.

The NCM has already written to the Centre in this connection. It pointed out that the Clause 2(c) of NCM Act of 1992 empowers the Central Government to notify a minority for purposes of the Act, in the light of which the Union Ministry of Welfare notified on October 23, 1993 Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as minority communities.

The Rajasthan law passed in April 2006, has, however, yet to receive the Governor's assent. The then Governor Pratibha Patil had referred the matter to the President with whom the Bill is lying since then.

Christian and civil rights organisations oppose the Bill, arguing that it seeks to restrict the right to freedom of religion and speech on the grounds of law and order, which is constitutionally impermissible

The proposed law not only tends to regulate conversions, but also to cripple the rights of the people, especially belonging to minority communities to propagate their faith, they say.

--- UNI

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