The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Religion Bill row

New Delhi, April 4: The National Commission for Minorities today directed the Narendra Modi government to delete the clause in the Freedom of Religion Bill making the permission of district magistrates mandatory for conversion, even as Gujarat Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari is seeking the opinion of Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee on the legislation, which was passed by the state government last month.

The minorities panel, which received several complaints against the anti-conversion Bill, said the clause was “in violation of the fundamental rights of a citizen”.

The Opposition Congress in Gujarat had also appealed to the Governor not to give his consent to the Bill as it was passed on March 26 when the Assembly was “not in order”. The government had passed seven Bills in a record time of 35 minutes, the Congress had alleged.

The anti-conversion Bill, aimed at stopping “forced conversions”, was passed in Gujarat with modifications, making it necessary for individuals or organisations to seek the permission of district magistrates before conversion.

Minorities commission chairman Tarlochan Singh has written to the Governor and Modi, saying the matter was considered in the full commission meeting here and “we have sought deletion of the clause from the Bill immediately”.

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