India: Himachal Pradesh passes Freedom of Religion Bill

General January 16, 2007
EFI condemns the decision of the Himachal Pradesh's State Legislative Assembly's decision to pass the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill.

Under the bill any person found forcibly converting another person could be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined up to 25,000 rupees. The bill states that any person wishing to convert to another religion must give prior notice of at least 30 days to the district government. Failure to do so will invite a penalty of up to 1,000 rupees.

The Bill was passed despite of assurances of the Congress President, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to government's and party's opposition to such laws being passed by the Bharatiya Janata Party governments.

EFI appeals to the Congress party not to play into the hands of extremists and fundamentalists groups and urges the Hon'ble Governor of Himachal Pradesh Mr. Justice Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje (Retd.) to return the Bill to the Legislative Assembly for further discussion.