Christians challenge Indian anti-conversion law
Barnabas Fund, 22 August 2022 (excerpts)
2 Indian Christian organisations have launched a formal challenge against the anti-conversion law in Karnataka.
The court issued notice to the state government on 22 July, requiring a response within four weeks.
The petition argues that the anti-conversion law infringes on a person’s right to convert from one religion to another for any reason they choose.
Furthermore, the ordinance places the burden of proof on the accused – the person alleged to have caused another to convert – rather than on the prosecution.
Finally, it argues the anti-conversion law is not compatible with India’s constitution, which enshrines freedom of religion.
The government of Karnataka issued the anti-conversion ordinance in May 2022. An ordinance is effectively a temporary law that lasts for six months.
It states that a person wishing to convert from one religion to another must inform the district magistrate two months in advance. The magistrate will then investigate the reasons behind the conversion. Failing to inform the magistrate can result in up to 3 years’ imprisonment for the one wishing to convert, and up to 5 years for the one helping them.
A permanent anti-conversion law may subsequently be passed at the next session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, though the date of the next session has yet to be announced.
10 other Indian states have anti-conversion laws that prohibit conversions through force, fraud or allurement. Extremists often interpret any evangelism as unlawful.