Article 15 of the Indian Constitution grants all Indians the right to freedom of religion. Being a secular country, India gives every citizen the right to practice their religion peacefully. Additionally, people in India also have an opportunity to change their religion for various reasons if they wish to do so. The only thing that Indian law verifies during a religious change is that it is done in good faith and not under the application of force. So, how does one undergo a religious change in India? In this article, we will take a look at how religious change occurs in India, and what individuals need to do.
What is the religious change process in India?
Indian offers all its citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their choice. It also allows people to change their religion if they wish to as a result of a change of faith, marriage, or divorce. However, individuals need a conversion certificate to make sure the change is reflected in all their legal documents. After obtaining the conversion certificate, the applicant must send this to an Official Gazette to notify it publicly and get it published.
What is the role of the Publication in religion change in India?
Getting the religion change notice published in an Official Gazette Publication is the most integral part of the whole process. This is also the part that takes the longest in the entire process. The older system required applicants to frequently visit the publication’s office to check the status of their application. However, recently many of these processes have been moved online, helping applicants get updates from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, applicants also have an option of downloading a copy of the Gazette online, making the process a lot easier.
The sole publisher of India’s official Gazette is the Controller of Publications. If the authorities find that the application is vague, misleading, inaccurate, incomplete, or unlawful, they have the power to reject the application. Such rejections can cause unwanted delays in the religion change process. Hence, all applicants must ensure they do the required due diligence before submitting their religion change application to prevent such hassles.
What are the documents required for religion change in India?
Applicants have to submit the following supporting documents to complete the religion change process in India.
1 Identity Proof: Voter ID / PAN card / Driving License / Passport / Aadhaar Card
2. Address proof: Aadhaar Card / Ration Card / Electricity, Water, Broadband, Gas Bill / Property tax receipt / Lease or Rental agreement / Property registration certification
3. One Passport Size Photo
4. Duly filled Application Form with all the required details
5. An affidavit explaining the reason for religion change.
The optional documents that applicants may submit include:
1. Marriage certificate
2. Affidavit after conversion
3. Divorce papers
Mandatory documents for minors below 18 years of age;
1. Identity proof – Aadhaar card / Registered school ID
2.. Address proof – Aadhaar card/ration card
3. Age proof – Birth certificate / bonafide certificate issued by a registered educational institute
4. One passport size photo
5. Application form duly filled and signed by the minor and his or her parents or guardians
What is the process of converting to a different religion in India?
Conversion to Islam
Individuals have to visit a mosque near them and take Shahada in front of a Maulvi and two other significant witnesses. After performing the Shahada, the Maulvi present will issue a conversion certificate. This certificate is made on the mosque’s official letterhead and is called a Shahada certificate. It includes relevant details, such as the date on which the conversion was performed and the names and other details of the witnesses who were present. After receiving this conversion certificate, the individual can start living as a practicing Islam. The applicant must send this certificate along with their application form to the official Government Gazette.
Conversion to Christianity
To convert to Christianity, an individual has to undergo a Baptism procedure inside a Church. They will also adopt a new Christian name, and the church issues a conversion certificate once all the processes are over. The applicant must attach this certificate to their application form when they send it to the official Government Gazette.
Conversion to Hinduism
There is no official conversion process one needs to undergo if they wish to convert to Hinduism. Hence, all one needs is the will and dedication to study the holy books and scriptures of the Hindu faith. In India, individuals may visit the nearest Arya Samaj temple to receive a conversion certificate. You will have to convince the members there that you are serious about your conversion and are willing to make an effort to learn the Hindu way of life. Like with the other conversions, applicants have to attach this certificate to their application form when they send it to the Gazette for publishing.
The step-by-step process for religious change
1. Create a name change affidavit to change your name legally.
2. Work towards obtaining your conversion certificate.
3. Place an advertisement regarding your decision in a regional and national newspaper
4. After you have the required documents, please send them to the official Gazette for publication
Once the submission is scrutinized by the authorities, they will publish it, making the religion change official, allowing you to have the changes reflected in the rest of your documents.
How much time does it take to change your religion in India legally?
The application for religion change in India takes around 15 to 20 days to prepare. Once submitted, the authorities take approximately 45 to 60 days to process the request and publish it formally. Hence, the entire process may take a little over three months to accomplish. Also, the process will require the applicant to visit the Gazette publication office frequently to enquire about the status of their application. This is why most people prefer to approach a legal consultancy service to help with religion change procedures in India. Many states now have online application services to help make the religion change process a lot quicker and easier.