BENGALURU: The Karnataka high court on Friday ordered notice to the state government in a PIL, challenging the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Ordinance-2022, commonly called the anticonversion law.
In their petition, Evangelical Fellowship of India, Delhi and All India United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Bengaluru claimed the ordinance, promulgated on May 17, 2022 by the governor, is against the ethos of secularism, beyond the scope of public order and violates Article 25 of the Constitution which pertains to freedom of propagation of religion. A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe gave the government four weeks’ time to respond. “The provisions of the ordinance violates Article 21 of the Constitution as it empowers the state to suppress an individual’s personal liberty. It [ordinance] seems to be premised upon conspiracy theories and assumes that all conversions are illegally forced upon individuals who may have attained the age of majority,” the petitioners said, while referring to statements made by BJP functionaries such as Tejaswi Surya (MP) and KS Eshwarappa (MLA).
The petitioners contend the ordinance seeks to mandate a series of complicated measures to be followed before and after conversion, taking the state into confidence to ensure that the act is a voluntary decision by the individual. “The ordinance allows unnecessary intrusion in the lives of people who have their autonomy compromised by the state,” the petition states. “When individuals have to approach the district magistrate to validate their conversion for the purpose of marriage or otherwise, it violates their right to privacy and disempowers individuals.”