Gujarat withdraws conversion law
An amendment to the Freedom of Religion Act branding Buddhism and Jainism as part of Hinduism was withdrawn by the Gujarat government on Monday, after it failed to get the Governor's nod.
The Gujarat Legislative Assembly had in July 2006 passed a controversial amendment to the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, declaring Buddhism and Jainism as different sects of Hinduism. But Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma had not given his assent to the amendment as it was found to be violative of Article 25 (A) of the Constitution. The amendment was thus returned to the Assembly for its reconsideration in August last year. As Minister of State for Home Amit Shah sought to withdraw the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2006, Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil raised a Point of Order saying that the Bill cannot be withdrawn at this stage.
Opposition Congress members wanted repeal of the Act itself, which made it mandatory to seek government permission to convert. The 2006 amendment exempted conversions between Buddhism and Jainism from such permission as they were regarded as sects of Hinduism.