AIR 2003 Ori 2003 2003 I OLR 404
The constitutional validity and legality of the provisions in Section 2 of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 and Rules 4 and 5 of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989 and the Rules inserted as Rules 2 and 3 by the Orissa Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Rules, 1999 was challenged.
FoRB violation – Conscience (i.e. having or adopting a religion of one’s choice)
Section 7 of the Act confers the Rule making power on the State Government to make Rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act. Obviously, the intention behind the enactment was to prevent conversion or attempt at conversion, by use of force, by inducement or by any fraudulent means. It is to carry out this avowed object of the Act that Rules have been framed and Rules 3 to 7 are merely intended to ensure that the conversions prohibited by the Act do not take place.
The insertion of Sub-rule (2) to Rule 5 by the notification dated 26-11-1999 is also merely to ensure that the conversion or attempted conversion 4s not one prevented by the Act or sought to be curbed by the Act.
The provisions for a local enquiry and for ascertaining whether there is any objection from any quarter, are also intended only to ensure that a conversion is out of the free will by the convertee and that no force, inducement or fraud has been practised on the convertee.
The provision for a declaration to be made before conversion that he intends to convert a person to his religion is intended only to ensure that the conversion is not one hit by the Act. We do not see any infirmity in the Rules. Nor can it be said that the Rules are beyond the Rule making power conferred by Section 7 of the Act.
As we have noticed, the Supreme Court has clearly held that the right to convert another person to one’s own religion was not covered by Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India and there was no fundamental right in any one to convert another person to one’s own religion. The argument that no legislation like the one is possible under cover of Article 25(2) of the Constitution raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners cannot also be accepted since in the above decision, the Supreme Court has very clearly held that the Legislature was competent to enact the law in the interests of maintaining public order covered by Entry I, List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution or India’.
They are merely persons who do not want to follow the steps prescribed by the Rules before converting another person into their religion. We are inclined to hold that at their instance there is no occasion for finding the Rules invalid.’