National anti-conversion law not tenable: Law Ministry

National anti-conversion law not tenable: Law Ministry

The Narendra Modi government’s plans to enact a national anti-conversion law have hit a roadblock with the Law Ministry advising against the move, saying it is “not tenable” as the matter lies under the domain of the states.

Official sources said the Central government has no jurisdiction to enact any law in this regard and any such move would fail judicial scrutiny.

The Law Ministry has now written to the Union Home Ministry explaining the legal position, after the latter approached it regarding the Constitutional position on the issue. The matter is “purely a state subject” and any move to enact such a law would go against the basic tenets of the Constitution, the Law Ministry said.

Sangh Parivar outfits have been campaigning for an anti-conversion law. They even approached the Home Ministry, seeking a central law. The Law Ministry’s opinion has now put the government in a spot as several ministers had voiced support for enacting such a law.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh himself had, on March 23, questioned the practice of conversion. He said, “Is it not true that the minorities demand anti-conversion law all over the world but not in India? Here, we are only saying that there should be an anti-conversion law. There should be a debate over it. We must think on bringing anti-conversion law.”

He had even said: “There are rumours and controversies about ‘ghar wapsi’ and conversions. Why should there be any conversion at all? Is conversion necessary? Can social service not be performed without resorting to conversion? Can no religion prosper without encouraging conversion?”

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had earlier said, “If there is a consensus, if opposition also feels there is a need for it, one can think about it.”

Currently, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh (all BJP-ruled), Odisha (BJD) and Congress-led Himachal Pradesh have anti-conversion laws to prevent forced conversion. However, none of them bans voluntary conversion.

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