Dr. Swamy’s arguments in HP High Court on validity of HP Freedom of Religion ACT 2006

http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.ca/2012/07/dr-swamys-arguments-in-hp-high-court-on.html
Just brilliant. This superb document should be come mandatory reading in every school all over the globe, to understand the true import of freedom of religion and the imperative of protection of dharma.

Dhanyavaadaah, Dr. Swamy for fighting for the protection of the tenets of sanatana dharma.

Let us hope that HP High Court will deliver an appropriate judgement upholding Dr. Swamy’s contentions rendered as Convenor of the Legal Cell, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha.

Kalyanaraman

In the Honourable High Court of Himachal Pradesh
Points Made by Dr. SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY
Convenor,Legal Cell, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha

In the matter of
CWP No.438 & CWP No.4716 of 2011
July 2-3, 2012

A-77 Nizammudin East
New Delhi-110013

In the Honourable High Court of Himachal Pradesh in Shimla
ARGUMENTS
In the matter of CWP No.438 of 2011&CWP No.4716 of 2011
by Dr. Subramanian Swamy
Convenor, Legal Cell, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha
1. The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act [ HPFRA or the Act] was moved by the Congress led Government in the HP Assembly and unanimously passed in December 2006 and received Governor’s Assent on 18.2.07.
2. Two Writ Petitions were filed four years later in 2011 challenging the vires of the Act and the Rules framed under the Act. No explanation has been given for this long delay.
3. The Petitioners are seeking to impress Your Lordships that the Sections and Rules framed under the said Act, deter the Petitioners from exercising their fundamental rights under Article 25 of the Constitution, of propagation and implied conversion activities.
4. They also allege that the Rules framed frighten the citizen from freely and privately exercising his or her fundamental right to convert to Christianity. This absolute right, the Petitioners aver, violates Article 21 of the Constitution.
5. They have however failed to lead any legally admissible evidence to prima facie prove the two allegations.
6. The Petitioners have prayed for a Writ of Mandamus to strike down Sections 2(a), 2 (b), 2(c), 2(d), 4 and 8 of the HPFRA, as also Rules[HPFRR] 3, 4, 5 and 6 framed under the said Act in 2007.

7. I submit five main objections to counter the said Writ Petitions.
First, THE LACK OF LOCUS STANDI
[i] Petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 have challenged the Act and the Rules on while Petitioner No. 3 has challenged the Act and the Rules on.
[ii] It is apparent from Grounds A to CC [p.10-18] in the first Writ Petition and Grounds AA-DD [p.18-19] in the second Petition that the three Petitioners are not personally aggrieved from infringement of any of their fundamental rights to get converted.
[iii] See: Rev. Satya Ranjan Majhi and Anr v. State of Orissa and Ors. [AIR 2003 Ori 163 Vol II, p.38, paras 3-5; and SLP in SC, Vol II p.41]; Vinoy Kumar v. State of UP & Ors. [AIR 2001 SC 1739; (2001) 2 SCR 196, para 2& 3, Vol II, p.44; p.48],
[iv] Hence, whether or not this Writ Petition is maintainable as a PIL on just plain apprehension of the Petitioners in their personal capacity, is an issue for Your Lordships’ judicial determination. I submit that it is not.
Second, THE BAR OF THE STAINILAUS CASE
[i] The fatal flaw in the two Petitions is that the Petitioners have failed to substantially distinguish their respective cases from the Stainislaus case decided by a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court [Rev. Stainislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1977 SC 908 in Vol II, p.55], and which judgment today is settled law.
[ii] The Hon’ble Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court Court held in this case that such Acts fall within the purview of Entry 1 List II of the Seventh Schedule under Article 246 of the Constitution “as they are meant to avoid disturbances to the public order by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another in a manner reprehensible to the conscience of the community” [Vol II, para 23-24, p.59 ].
[iii] The Hon’ble Court in the said case also observed that “it cannot be predicated that freedom of religion can have no bearing whatever on the maintenance of public order or that a law creating an offence relating to religion cannot under any circumstances be said to have been enacted in the interest of public order” [Ibid].
[iv]This ruling has since been re-affirmed in recent judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. In Rabindra Kumar Pal @ Dara Singh v. Republic of India [in (2011) 2 SCC 490 at para 97] “There is no justification for interfering in someone’s religious belief by any means”.
[v] Following Stainilaus, it is clear that the HP Legislative Assembly was empowered vide Article 246 List II Entry 1 of the Seventh Schedule to enact the HPFRA.
[vi] Also, Section 7 of the enacted HPFRA confers Rule making power on the HP State Government, which it exercised following the assent of the Governor to the enacted HPFRA.
[vii] The said Stainilaus case judgment has also settled the issue that there is no fundamental right to convert anyone to another religion.
[viii]The Right to convert implied in the right to propagate is therefore subject to restrictions as under Article 25, on grounds of public order, public health and public morality.
[xi] Squarely within this constitutional provision, the HP LA has enacted the HPFRA.
[x] The Petitioners, instead of frontally dealing with the Stainilaus case, and distinguishing their case from it, have blandly averred [p.9, para 21] that their right for unfettered religious conversion “is unaffected by what was decided in the Stainislaus case” on the meaning of the word “propagate” in Article 25.
[x] Further it is averred by the Petitioners that “In the said case the issues of the onerousness (sic) of the Act in question and other enactments were not addressed or decided”[ op.cit]. What is this “onerousness” has been not stated.
[xi] In the Brief Written Synopsis of the Petitioner No. 1, again there is no attempt made to explain what this onerousness is, or to deal with the central point in the Stainilaus judgment: that there is no absolute right to convert anyone’s religion.
What remains then after the Stainilaus judgment, if anything, in the prayers of the two Writ Petitions, for consideration of Your Lordships?
[vii] On three points made by the Petitioners Your Lordships queried the Respondent HP State for countering:
Point 1: The Petitioners state that the proviso to Section 4(1) which provides that no notice is required if a person “reverts back to his original religion” is discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
I submit that the phrase “original religion” means as in the Rajasthan Act, the religion of one’s forefathers. That is the Hindu religion.
This view is based on the fact that before foreign invasions, India was a 100% Hindu country. Recent DNA studies show that Indians within the statistical limits of permitted error, are all of the same DNA.
Hence, our ancestors were all Hindus. Thus, the term “original religion” should mean Hindu religion.
In HPFRA, I submit, we should also take it to mean the same. Therefore, “reverts back to his original religion” should be construed to mean return to Hindu religion.
The HP Legislature in its wisdom would have held that this reversion back to the Hindu religion will not cause any public disorder, and hence it did not require a notice to be given. The test is by what happens to public order.
There is no material produced by the Petitioners to show that in Himachal Pradesh, public order was in any way disrupted by any such Ghar Vapasi i.e., reverting to the religion of one’s forefathers.
With reference to the Objects of the Bill, a person converting to another religion therefore belongs to a category distinguishable intelligibly from anyone reverting back to Hinduism, the original religion, since it is held unanimously by the HP Legislative Assembly that in the latter case there would be no threat to public order.
The proviso to Section 4(1) is therefore not unreasonably discriminatory or that it violates Article 14, since those who revert back to one’s ancestors’ religion, are a classification that meets the test of intelligible differentia as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the 1984 Antulay case on Special Courts.
Consequently, the procedure established under Section 4 cannot be applied equally to persons intending to convert to a new religion and persons who revert back at any stage to their ‘original’ religion.
Point 2: Section 4 and Rule 3(2) provide that the District Magistrate may use “such agency as he may deem fit” for the purpose of enquiry.
The Petitioners aver that this is unbridled discretionary power conferred on the District Magistrate and he may misuse this discretionary power depending on his inclinations and persuasions.

The words “such agency as he may deem fit” cannot however be interpreted as enabling the District Magistrate to arbitrarily, or unreasonably or malafide choose agencies which are against conversion.

Such exercise of his discretion would be illegal and can be agitated in courts on a case by case basis.

In the HP Assembly debates [Annexure 6, p.102] when the Bill was introduced, it was originally proposed that the “enquiry” will be through the SP of the District [page. 102 – Tabular column].

However, the Chief Minister proposed that the “enquiry” may be through “any appropriate agency in the District”.

It is evident that the intention of the legislature was to give the District Magistrate the discretion to employ such agency at his disposal and not to strictly specify the agency.

Point 3: Proviso to Rule 3 provides that “any other person prejudicially affected shall be given adequate opportunity to associate himself with any such enquiry”.

This, the Petitioners aver violates a person’s right to privacy and freedom of conscience under Article 21 as any person can associate himself with the enquiry to bias or rig the enquiry.

That is, according to the Petitioners, the words “any other person prejudicially affected” is of wide ambit and therefore any one against conversion can associate himself with the enquiry.

This apprehension has no rational basis and the contention of the Petitioner is devoid of any merit.

The person eligible to associate with the enquiry is not any stranger but one who is prejudicially going to be affected by the conversion of that person intending to convert.

These persons will be those who performed the converting ceremony, and other persons taking part directly or indirectly in the ceremony, persons who may be witnesses or present at the time of the ceremony, the family members of the person who is intending to convert, such as his wife, and so and so forth.

Particularly since the Act bans forcible conversions, the above mentioned persons will be prejudicially affected by a finding that the conversion was forcibly done.

Rule 3(2) clearly provides that the enquiry shall be completed within 15 days of the receipt of notice from the person intending to convert.

Moreover, in the tinted glass case viz., Avishek Goenka vs UOI [(2012)25 SCC 301 paras 32-35 p. 329-30], it has been held that the right to privacy is also not absolute and is subject to public interest.
Third, PETITIONERS’ FAILURE TO ESTABLISH A NEXUS BETWEEN THE ENACTMENT OF HPFRA AND SUPPRESSION OF CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS PROPAGATION.
[i] The Hon’ble Supreme Court [Bennet Coleman case (1972) 2 SCC 788], cited by the petitioners, has held in the said case that the test in determining the question whether a legislation or executive action infringes the fundamental rights is to examine its effects and not its object or subject matter. The Petitioners have failed in this regard.
[ii] Although the Petitioners have sworn in their affidavits that all the facts in their respective Petitions are to their “personal knowledge” yet it is obvious that the violent incidents and instances of intimidation cited in the Petition and alleged to be a consequence of enacting the impugned legislation, could not have been to their personal knowledge since they have not sworn that they were at the site of the said incidents or named any impeccable source on whom they relied.
[iii] Thus, the failure to file these essential affidavits requires disregarding any pleadings in the two Petitions of the nexus between the Act and alleged incidents of religious violence since without the affidavits filed by affected persons it is devoid of any evidentiary value.
8. Fourth, PETITIONERS HAVE BEEN DERAILED BY WRONG ASSUMPTIONS.
[i] the Petitioners have been derailed by focusing on the right to convert when in fact they ought to have focused on why public order would not be disturbed by fraudulent forced or induced conversions.
[ii] In the Stainislaus judgment, the Court significantly held that (para. 22) “if forcible conversion had not been prohibited, that would have caused public disorder in the States [of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.]”.
[iii] That is precisely what the Chief Minister stated in the HP Legislative Assembly while piloting the HPFR Bill of 2006.
[iv]Thus induced or forced Religious Conversions, or arising from demeaning other religions thus have, undeniably, impact on pluralism in society, and on the religious demography of the nation and hence there are dire consequences for public order, public health, and public morality. The State thus has to act then as a deterrent.
[vii] This is the common finding of the Neoygi and Wadhwa Commissions as well.
This is also not a new concern. The IPC enacted long ago, has criminal offences u/s 153, 295A, 505(2) IPC.
The concepts of Divine Displeasure, the only path to salvation etc., can affect public order. That possibility is sufficient to warrant a reasonable restriction. Already it is a criminal offence u/s 508 IPC.
The Petitioners in their arguments before this Hon’ble Court have thus failed to show how HPFRA & HPFRR are unconstitutional.
9. Fifthly, THE PETITIONERS FAILED TO RECOGNISE CONCERNS OF LEADERS OF THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE THAT INFLUENCED THE DELIBERATIONS OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
[i] The necessity for placing reasonable restrictions on the right to propagate religion in Independent India was emphasized during the Freedom Struggle by the Mahatma Gandhi in the Harijan [Annexure – 1, p. 36-37 & 42]. See also Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel [Annexure – 4, p.73, 75, 76].
[ii] Hinduism is inherently committed to secularism and thus tolerant of other religions, and is the only theology which explicitly accepts that all religions lead to God.
[iv] In the Vedas, it is repeatedly stated Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti . No other religion states this. Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians, and Moplah Muslims in India testify to this.
[iv] Christianity and Islam are not inherently secular and are fundamentally predatory proselytizing theologies that do not accept any other religion.
[v] Hence, an underlying concern of founding fathers of the Constitution has been how to ensure that there is a stable religious demography and thus continued plurality in worship in modern India to defend the basic structure pillar of secularism.
[vi] For this objective and concern, in Jammu & Kashmir for example, Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution to prevent migration of people from the rest of India into the state and disturb the religious demography.
[vii] However, Kashmir valley being majority Muslim, we have witnessed forced emigration of Hindu Pandits and Sikhs, out of the State leading besides forcible conversions to Islam.
[viii] The said Article failed thus to provide protection for forced emigration of Hindus from the State. In varying degrees, this has been the fate of Hindus wherever they are in a minority.
This sharp contrast between Hindu and Semitic theologies requires special intervention by the Legislature.
[ix] The Indian Republic thus can preserve a liberal religious outlook only if the Hindus remain in overwhelming majority in the country. Any rapid change in religious demography will therefore cause a huge public disorder.
[x] That is, to safeguard secularism, we cannot allow the present religious demography to be wholesale altered by induced, forced or fraudulent conversions.
[xi] Democratically elected state governments have thus been constitutionally empowered to take pre-emptive action to deter any kind of forced or bribed conversion because it de-stabilises the religious demographic structure of the nation.
[xii] This is why even acknowledged secular governments such as of Congress Party have got enacted such a law as HPFRA.
A REMAINING QUESTION
Are the Act and Rules violative of the International instruments signed by India?
1. Though the Petitioners rely on Article 18(1) of UDHR to support their allegation, they conveniently ignore Article 18(2) and Article 18(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966; entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49] which is a covenant adopted to give effect to the UDHR.
2. Article 18(2) ICCPR [Annexure – 5, p.99] reads, “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”
3. Article 18(3) ICCPR read, “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
4. Therefore there is no merit in the allegation that the Act and the Rules are violative of the international instruments signed by India

Thus, these Writ Petitions have no merit and hence should be dismissed.

Appendix
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY DEBATES
1. The Petitioners No. 1 and No. 2 make reference to the Constituent Assembly debates [paras 8&9, p.5]. But it is superficial.
2. A closer look brings out that what is adverse to their case has been ignored by the Petitioners [In this connection see Annexure 3, p. 61&64].
3. The Constituent Assembly debate has been concisely presented [which is referred to by the Petitioners on p.5, para 9] in The Framing of India’s Constitution [B. Shiva Rao; Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi Annexure 2]. A closer reading does not help them either.
4. The Constituent Assembly decided the word “propagate” in Art. 25(1) be introduced in the Constitution indeed to enable religious conversion of persons to other religions.
5. But it was never the case in the Assembly debates that anyone be allowed to convert anyone to another religion through inducements or force or fraud.
6. Moreover, the Constituent Assembly members were unanimous that such conversion would be void, as if it had never happened, if it was made through force, fraud and inducement.
7. The intention of our Freedom Movement leaders in the Constituent Assembly was clear and against unfettered right to convert anybody as can be seen by the suggested amendments that were rejected [p.117, Annexure P-V].

8. [2] Whether the punishment prescribed under Section 4(2) is not violative of Article 21 and Article 25?
i. Since the requirement of prior notification is permissible and valid (as argued hereinabove) and as it does not impinge on a person’s right to privacy and freedom of conscience, prescribing a penalty for the violation of such a requirement is perfectly tenable in the eyes of law.
Hence the punishment prescribed under Section 4(2) is not violative of Article 21 and Article 25
[4] Whether Section 4 & 5 of the Act are violative of Article 14?
ii. The intention of the legislature to award a higher punishment when the offence under Section 3 is committed against a minor, a woman or a person belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes is based on an intelligible differentia as these persons form a separate and distinct class by their own.
iii. These persons are vulnerable and are easily susceptible to conversions brought about by force, fraud or inducement.
Thus Sections 4&5 of the Act are not ultra vires of Article 14.
9. [5] Whether the definitions under Section 2(a) to 2(d) are “vague, indistinct and unclear” and thereby violative of Article 25?
i. There is no merit in the Petitioners’ challenge to the definitions under Section 2(a), 2(b), 2(c) and 2(d). The Petitioners’ argument that the definition of Conversion under Section 2(a) of the Act “contemplates a pre-existing religion in the life of a person and does not take into account atheists and agnostics. . .” is devoid of merit because such persons have no where objected to the Act.
ii. The Petitioners herein have no locus standi to raise this issue before Your Lordships since they are no way aggrieved by the said Sections.
iii. The definitions of Conversion, Force and Inducement under Section 2(a), 2(b) and 2(d) of the Act respectively are identical to the definitions of Conversion, Force and Inducement under Section 2(a), 2(b) and 2(d) respectively of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 [Orissa Act]. The said definition under the Orissa Act were challenged, the Orissa High Court in Yulitha Hyde v. State of Orissa [AIR 1973 Ori 116 ].
iv. On Appeal by way of an SLP the Supreme Court in the Stanislaus judgment upheld the definition of ‘force’, ‘fraud’ and ‘inducement’ under the Orissa Act.
v. There is no merit in the argument that these words have been defined under the IPC and hence it was not necessary to define them under the present Act. The present Act is a special law specifically enacted to prohibit conversion through force or fraud or inducement and criminally punish persons who convert others through force or fraud or inducement. The Indian Penal Code on the other hand is the general criminal law.
Hence, here is no merit in the Petitioners’ challenge to the definitions under Section 2(a), 2(b), 2(c) and 2(d).
10. [6] Whether the Rules are ultra vires the Constitution and the Act?
i. Rule 4, HPFRR reads, “Where on the basis of any complaint or any information laid before him, the Dist. Magistrate is of the opinion, for reasons to be recorded, that force or inducement may have been used or is likely to be used in any conversion within the local limits of his jurisdiction; or that a conversion has taken place without notice in contravention of the provisions of this Act, he may cause an inquiry to be made in the matter and proceeded in the manner as provided in Rule 3.”
ii. Section 8 (1) reads, “The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.”
iii. A similar contention was unsuccessfully raised before the Orissa High Court in Rev. Satya Ranjan Majhi and Anr v. State of Orissa and Ors. [AIR 2003 ORI 163].
iv. Section 7, OFRA reads, “The State Government may make rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.”
v. Their Lordships opined: (para 5) “As regards the challenge to the Rules, it is clear that section 7 of the Act confers the Rule making power on the State Government to make Rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act. Obviously, the intention behind the enactment was to prevent conversion or attempt at conversion, by use of force, by inducement or by any fraudulent means. It is to carry out this avowed object of the Act that Rules have been framed and Rules 3 to 7 are merely intended to ensure that conversions prohibited by the Act do not take place. The insertion of Sub-rule (2) to Rule 5 by the notification dated 26-11-1999 is also merely to ensure that the conversion or attempted conversion 4s not one prevented by the Act or sought to be curbed by the Act. . . We do not see any infirmity in the Rules. Nor can it be said that the Rules are beyond the Rule making power conferred by Section 7 of the Act.”
vi. When the Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, when the Orissa Assembly had passed an Amendment to the Act, the Court held [in Satya Ranjan Majhi and Anr. v. State of Orissa [2003 (6) ALT 6 SC para 5] “Before the High Court, the principal argument advanced on behalf of the petitioners was that the said Rules are ultra vires the rule-making power contained in Section 7 of the Act. The High Court has dealt with the matter in paragraph 5 of its judgment. We have also perused the written submissions filed by the petitioners before the High Court, but we do not find any specific ground, questioning the said Rule other than mentioned hereinbefore was raised before the High Court. . . (para 6) We, therefore, do not find any merit in the special leave petition. It is, accordingly, dismissed.”
vii. Moving on, the proviso to Rule 3(2) reads, “…any other person likely to be prejudicially affected shall be given adequate opportunity to associate himself with any such enquiry”.
viii. The Petitioners contend that there is no question of injury or damage to any third person, and thus, inviting a third person who is a total stranger to the enquiry proceedings is a violation of an individual’s right to privacy. However, even this contention is devoid of any merit.
ix. The person is not any stranger but one who is prejudicially going to be affected by the conversion of that person intending to convert. These persons will be those perform the converting ceremony, other persons taking part directly or indirectly in the ceremony, persons who may be witnesses or present at the time of the ceremony, the family members of the person who is intending to convert and so and so forth. Particularly since the Act bans forcible conversions, the above mentioned persons will be prejudicially affected by a finding that the conversion was forcibly done.
Hence, it is baseless to contend that the Rules framed under the Act are ultra vires the Constitution.
11. [7] Whether the Act and the Rules are violative of the doctrine of double jeopardy under Art. 20(2)?
i. The present Act is a special law specifically enacted to prohibit conversion through force or fraud or inducement and criminally punish persons who convert others through force or fraud or inducement. The Indian Penal Code on the other hand is the general criminal law of the country. Force or fraud or inducement used to bring about religious conversion form a distinct offence under the Act and has no provisions under Sections of the Indian Penal Code.
ii. The IPC contains an exclusive chapter concerning offences relating to religion [Chapter XV Sections 295-298]. The five sections comprising that chapter and two other Sections 153-A and 153-B do not in any way relate to conversions brought about by force, fraud or inducement.
Thus, the Act and the Rules do not violate the doctrine of double jeopardy under Article 20(2) of the Constitution.
12. [8] Whether the Act is beyond the legislative competence of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly?
i. The Hon’ble Apex Court in the said Stanislaus case observed that, (para 23 to 25) “It has been held by this Court in Ramesh Thapar v. The State of Madras that “public order” is an expression of wide connotation and signifies state of tranquility which prevails among the members of a political society as a result of internal regulations enforced by the Government which they have established. Reference may also be made to the decision in Ramjilal Modi v. State of U.P. (2) where this Court has held that the right of freedom religion guaranteed by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution is expressly made subject to public order, morality and health, and that “it cannot be predicated that freedom of religion can have no bearing whatever on the maintenance of public order or that a law creating an offence relating to religion cannot under any circumstances be said to have been enacted in the interests of public order”. It has been held that these two Articles in terms contemplate that restrictions may be imposed on the rights guaranteed by them in the interests of public order. Reference may as well be made to the decision in Arun Ghosh v. State of West Bengal: (a) where it has been held that if a thing disturbs the current of the life of the community [(1) (1950) S.C.R. 594; (2) (1957) S.C.R. 860 (3) (1966) 1 S.C.R. 709] and does not merely affect an individual, it would amount to disturbance of the public order. Thus if an attempt is made to raise communal passions, e.g. on the ground that some one has been “forcibly” converted to another religion, it would, in all probability, give rise to an apprehension of a breach of the public order, affecting the community at large. The impugned Acts therefore fall within: the purview of Entry I of List II of the Seventh Schedule as they are meant to avoid disturbances to the public order by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another in a manner reprehensible to the conscience of the community. The two Acts do not provide for the regulation of religion and we do not find any justification for the argument that they fall under Entry 97 of List I of the Seventh Schedule.”
ii. Therefore, the Hon’ble Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court held that Acts (by inference such as the present Act) fall within the purview of Entry II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution “as they are meant to avoid disturbances to the public order by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another in a manner reprehensible to the conscience of the community” [Ibid].
Hence, the Act is not beyond the legislative competence of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
13. [9] Whether the Act and Rules are violative of the International instruments signed by India?
i. Though the Petitioners rely on Article 18(1) of UDHR to support their allegation, they conveniently ignore Article 18(2) and Article 18(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) [Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966; entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49] which is a covenant adopted to give effect to the UDHR.
ii. Article 18(2) ICCPR [Annexure – 5, p.99] reads, “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”
iii. Article 18(3) ICCPR read, “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
iv. Therefore there is no merit in the allegation that the Act and the Rules are violative of the international instruments signed by India

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