India High Court Rejects Christian Council Petition

( [email protected] ) Jul 06, 2003 02:18 PM EDT

On June 30th, the Gujarat High Court in India rejected petitions from the All India Christian’s Council (AICC) and Buddha Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar (BGMV) that challenged the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 on the basis that the petitions submitted were premature.

On Monday the Advocate General S N Shelat submitted to the court that the State Government had not issued notification u/s 1(2) of the act that will bring the act into operation and he claimed that the law is opened to challenge since it had not come into force yet. Also he submitted that there are presently no threats to the religious rights of the petitioners.

Advocate R D Raval appeared in court for the AICC and argued that as the State Legislature has already passed the act and the Governor has also given his assent on April 7, the Government will at any time issue notification and bring the act into force. He also submitted that it is not the contention of the Government that it will never bring the act into effect and not make rules under the provisions of section 8 of the act. The powers delegated to the district magistrate are absolute and unguided.

AICC and BGMV had filed a petition in the high court seeking declaration of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 as unconstitutional. It also said that the act violated the fundamental rights. They also challenged the section 8 of the act that makes it mandatory for an individual or an organization wanting to change its religion with the prior approval of the respective district magistrate.