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Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy defended the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (HPFRA) and maintained that it did not violate any provision of the Constitution.

Swamy, in his capacity as convenor, Legal Cell, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, argued that the petitioners had no locus standi as they were not the aggrieved from infringement of any of their fundamental rights to get converted.

A division bench of the Himachal Pradesh High Court had allowed Swamy to intervene in three petitions filed by Evangelical Fellowship of India and Shabnam Hashmir-led Act Now for Harmony and Democracy challenging the Constitutional validity of the Act.

The petitioners have prayed for a writ of mandamus to strike down Sections 2 (a), 2(b), 2 (c), 2 (d), 4 and 8 of the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, as also rules 3, 4,5 and 6 framed under the Act in 2007.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act was moved by the Congress-led government in the Himachal Assembly and unanimously passed in December 2006, Swamy contended.

The Himachal Assembly which unanimously passed the Bill was empowered vide Article 246 of the Seventh Schedule to enact the Act, he said.

Justice Deepak Gupta observed that the provision of giving prior notice for conversion and not making a similar provision for returning to one’s religion was debatable.

The court posted the case for hearing on July 16.

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