Rajasthan's Governor Refuses to Sign Religious Freedom Bill

May 19, 2006

Source: BBC News


On May 19, 2006 BBC News reported, "The state governor of India's western state of Rajasthan has refused to sign a contentious religious freedom bill.

Pratibha Patil's refusal comes amid widespread criticism of the bill, which would ban people from being converted to religions against their will.

The state assembly passed the bill, which would see offenders fined or imprisoned, last month.

Members of Rajasthan's BJP-led government say the move by the governor is unconstitutional.

Critics of the bill say it could curb religious freedom.

Rajasthan's law minister Ghanshyam Tiwari said 'it was the constitutional obligation of the governor to sign the bill that was passed by the legislative assembly.'

It is believed Ms Patil did not sign the bill because of complaints by religious minorities, the BBC's Narayan Bareth says.

Human rights agencies and minority groups are opposed to the bill, saying it has been brought in to appease radical Hindu groups.

Critics called on Ms Patil to protect the rights of religious minorities such as Christians, Muslims and lower-caste Hindus.

However, the BJP-led government says the bill has been brought in to stop religious conversion by means of allurement, greed or pressure.

Under the proposed law, any person caught trying to convert people could face between two and five years in jail and a fine of 50,000 rupees (US$1,100)."