DM's Nod Mandatory To Convert To Buddhism: Gujarat Govt

DM's Nod Mandatory To Convert To Buddhism: Gujarat Govt

This directive, released by the state home department on April 8, aims at addressing concerns regarding the handling of conversion applications.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Friday, April 12, 2024, 10:57 AM IST
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The Gujarat government, which issued a circular earlier this week designating Buddhism as a separate religion, has ruled that under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion

Act, 2003, conversions from Hinduism to Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism will necessitate prior approval from respective district magistrates.

This directive, released by the state home department on April 8, aims at addressing concerns regarding the handling of conversion applications.

Highlighting discrepancies in the interpretation of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act by district magistrate offices, the circular underscored the necessity of adhering to prescribed procedures for conversion applications. It acknowledged instances where applicants and autonomous bodies have contested the need for prior permission for conversions from Hinduism to Buddhism.

The circular further points out that every year in Gujarat, people converted to Buddhism during Dussehra and other festivals and ‘‘the rules were often not followed.

The circular warns against potential legal challenges stemming from inadequate understanding of legal provisions surrounding religious conversions. It underscored the need for a thorough examination of the legal framework by district magistrates when evaluating conversion applications We’ve observed a lapse in adhering to the prescribed procedure for applications seeking permission for Hinduism to Buddhism conversions. Furthermore, we’ve received feedback from applicants and autonomous bodies suggesting that prior permission is unnecessary for such religious conversions, the notification said.

The relevant Act was introduced by the government with the aim of curbing religious conversions achieved through methods such as allurement, coercion, misrepresentation, or any other fraudulent means. In an amendment introduced in 2021, the Act was revised to explicitly prohibit forced religious conversions through marriage.

The Act includes stringent penalties, with offenders facing a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines reaching up to Rs 5 lakh. Notably, the burden

of proof rests on the accused, and investigations into such matters are to be conducted by officers holding the rank of deputy superintendent of police or higher.

However, the amended Act has faced legal challenges, with its validity currently being contested before the Gujarat High Court.

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