Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

KT NEWS FEATURE. Dated: 4/6/2021 11:55:15 PM

A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.
In a representation to the state governor, the Minorities Coordination Committee (MCC) said, “While presenting the amendment Bill, the way the State Home Minister used the word jihadi, named an Islamic institution and tried to link it with terrorists, “it is became quite clear that the amendment will be misused against the minorities.”
MCC convener Mujahid Nafees, who has signed the representation, said, “The fundamental spirit of the proposed law is violation of the freedom of religion. It only reveals the political conspiracy by masculine leaders in order to impose their parochial agenda on the choice of women to marry whom they wish..”
Quoting Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, the representation says, "All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely promote, practice and propagate religion under public order, morality and health.”
Nafees said, the State Home Minister “failed to give any concrete reasons for the purpose of introducing the Bill, nor has he quotes figures of religion conversions in the state, yet he continued with his hate speech towards Muslims.” He added, “The agenda of votebank politics was clearly visible by creating an atmosphere of fear among the people of Gujarat.”
Also stating that the amendment “violates the freedom found in the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the representation says, “To choose to marry anyone following any religion is a fundamental pillar of personal freedom”, underlining, the Bill violates “Article 51A (f) of the Constitution, which clearly states every citizen of the country is equal, "irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or communal differences”.
Pointing out that already many laws exist such as the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Indian Criminal Procedure 1973, the Indian Evidence Act 1872 and others, which are empowered to deal with forcible conversion, he said, “Hence, a new law has no justification.”
Asking the governor to reject the Bill, he said, “The Bill is also a clear violation of the fundamental principle of the natural principles of justice, and seeks to punish the innocent. It violates equality before all under Article 14 of the Constitution. It is also in violates the 1948 Declaration of International Human Rights, to which India is a signatory.”

 

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