ADF creates new legal victories for religious freedom in India

Successes in challenge to anti-conversion law, convictions against persecutors of Christians
Monday, May 07, 2012

ADF attorney sound bite:  Benjamin Bull

HIMACHAL PRADESH, JHARKHAND, and ORISSA provinces, India — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys and allied attorneys in India have successfully brought about positive developments in two critical legal situations involving the persecution of Christians in that country.

In a significant lawsuit against an anti-conversion law in Himachal Pradesh province, ADF and allied attorneys representing Evangelical Fellowship of India succeeded in blocking attempts by groups who back the law to become official parties in the case. ADF and allied attorneys have also successfully brought justice to several Hindu extremists who had attacked Christians and forced them from their villages in Jharkhand and Orissa provinces.

“No one should be targeted for violence, inhumane treatment, and religious discrimination simply because of their Christian faith,” said ADF Director of Global Activities Ben Bull. “The legal efforts of ADF in India are all designed to ensure that the religious freedoms protected in India’s constitution are upheld. Aggressors should not be allowed to get away with persecution by either disregarding the law or by attempting to pass laws that conflict with the constitution.”

The case Evangelical Fellowship of India v. State of Himachal Pradesh, filed in January of last year, challenges the constitutionality of the province’s poorly named Freedom of Religion Act, which forces any person intending to convert to a different religion to obtain permission from the district magistrate first. The act, which also allows for such conversions to be punished, greatly affects the rights of monotheistic religions like Christianity to freely live out and share their faith, and vague definitions in the law are likely to be abused and misused to punish non-Hindu religious groups.

ADF-allied attorneys will file briefs and participate in final arguments in the lawsuit, which has been adjourned until June 12. The groups blocked from becoming parties will be limited to addressing the court during final arguments and will not be allowed to file replies in the case.

In Orissa province in 2008 and Jharkhand province in 2011, Hindu extremists severely persecuted Christians in certain villages, destroying their homes and committing other acts of violence, including murder. ADF and its allied attorneys successfully worked with government officials to arrest and prosecute many of the offenders, including the first-ever convictions in Orissa province related to the violence there.
  • Pronunciation guide: Himachal Pradesh (HIM’-ah-chahl Pra-DESH’), Jharkhand (Jar-KUND’)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.