Home Sri Lankan Cases A Bill on Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion

Supreme Court
T.B. Weerasuriya J, N.E. Dissanayake J, Raja Fernando J,
Key words
Articles 9, 10, 14(1)(e), 12(1) and 12(2) – Constitution, Article 18(2) - ICCPR
Cases referred to

1. Kokkinakis v. Greece

Counsel who appeared
Date of Decision
Judgement by Name of Judge/s
Noteworthy information relating to the case
Other information

A Bill on Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion

SC Special Determination Nos. 2-22/2004

Facts of the case

A bill titled ‘Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion’ was tabled on Parliament in July 2004. It sought to prevent conversions that take place as a result of fraud, allurement or force. The bill was challenged at the SC.


It was argued that the clause 2 of the bill read with clause 8 are inconsistent with the Articles 9, 10, 14(1)(e) and 12(2) of the Constitution. It was further argued that Article 10 was an absolute right. 

Findings related to FoRB


Article 10 includes the right to change one’s religion, but the bill only tried to prevent conversions through fraud, force and allurement. 


(1) The essential ingredient of the offence of allurement as a means of conversation is the causing of a temptation or an inducement by offering a person some benefit calculated to fascinate him or attract him which may affect his decision.


 (2) As the primary objective of the bill is to prevent conversion of a person from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by any fraudulent means, it is desirable to define the terms force, allurement or fraudulent means in relation to the primary objective of the bill.


Subject to certain changes in the Clause 8(a), (c) and (d) of the bill, clause 2 of the bill read with clause 8 was not inconsistent with Articles 9, 10, 14(1)(e), 12(1) and 12(2) of the Constitution.


Clause 3 which included a stipulation that the convert, the facilitator and a witness to the ceremony should notify the Divisional Secretary of the conversion, was inconsistent with Article 10 of the Constitution.


Clause 4 relating to implementation of clause 3, and the non applicability of the criminal procedure code rendered clause 4 inconsistent with Article 10. 


Clause 5 relating to the institution of proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court and cause 6 relating to the power of the minister to make rules and regulations were also inconsistent with Article 10.



>The bill be passed with a 2/3rd majority in parliament

and be approved by the people at a referendum;

> Clause 3 and 4(b) be deleted;

>Amend clause 4(a) of the bill;

>Revise the definition of force, fraud and allurement;

>Amend clause 8 (c) and (d) of the bill.