Christian forum challenges Gujarat freedom of religion act

February 26th, 2009 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Feb 26 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court has admitted a petition filed by a Christian forum challenging the validity of state’s freedom of religion act.
The court has issued notice to the advocate general of the state following the petition by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights Wednesday.

The petitioners contended before the court that the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 violates the rights of an individual to choose any religion.

The act makes it mandatory to seek prior permission of district magistrate before conversion, according to the petition.

The act violates the fundamental right of freedom of conscience and freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion under the Article 25 of the constitution, the petition said.

“The state under the Indian Constitution, being a secular state and guaranteeing freedom of religion, cannot intervene in any case of free and voluntary conversion by granting or refusing permission,” the petition contended.

“Even Orissa’s (freedom of religion) act talks of intimating the authorities whereas the Gujarat act emphasizes that permission has to be taken from the district magistrate. Even the priest who is converting a genuinely interested person has to take permission from the district magistrate,” senior advocate and human rights activist Girish Patel told IANS.

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