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Report No. 235

Conversion -nature of and essentials to be proved:

6. Conversion like a marriage is a solemn act. Conversion from one religion to another has far reaching consequences -social and legal. It affects succession, marital status and also the right to seek elective office. Divorce can be granted on the ground that the spouse has changed the religion (vide Section 13(1)(ii) of the Hindu Marriage Act). `Upon conversion a person may be governed by a different personal law. The right to contest in elections from a constituency reserved from SCs / STs might be lost if the person who has changed the religion happened to be a member of Scheduled Caste or Tribe. Thus, the event of conversion is of critical importance from the point of view of rights and disabilities of a convert.

7. Conversion cannot be treated as an event which can be achieved through a mere declaration - oral or writing. At the same time, no particular formalities or ceremonies are required according to the law declared by Supreme Court. In fact, no such ceremonies are specifically prescribed in any religious texts or precepts, though certain ceremonies like 'Suddhi' (in the case of Arya Samajists) and baptism (in the case of Christians) are gone through in practice in some cases. Credible evidence of the intention to convert followed by definite overt acts to give effect to that intention is necessary.

The subsequent conduct of the convertee is also important in reaching the conclusion that a conversion in its true sense had taken place and there was genuine conversion. The evidentiary facts which establish conversion have been time and again stated by the Supreme Court, while observing that no specific ritual or ceremony is required. Satisfactory evidence of conversion which has always been insisted upon by the Courts is necessary especially when we hear plethora of complaints of manipulated conversions for extraneous reasons or as a result of undue pressures.



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