Religious Freedom in India and Pakistan

Sunil Khilnani, Vikram Raghavan and Arun K. Thiruvengadam

in Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780198081760
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199082360 | DOI:
Religious Freedom in India and Pakistan

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This chapter explores the two leading judgments of the Indian Supreme Court and the Pakistan Federal Shariat Court. In India, in 1995, in a case called Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India held that when a Hindu man marries a Hindu woman under Hindu law, the man's conversion to Islam does not entitle him to marry a second Muslim wife, although Muslim law applicable in India permits it; nor is his first marriage to the Hindu woman dissolved by his conversion. In Pakistan, in the Mst. Zarina v. State case, it was the wife who converted to Islam and then married a man who was himself a convert from Christianity to Islam. The unconverted Christian husband then filed a criminal complaint against his wife and her second husband for the crime of zina, sexual intercourse outside lawful marriage in violation of one of the Hudood Ordinances, promulgated during General Zia's regime. In a comparative analysis, the author discusses the many ramifications of conversion and the constitutional laws applicable in each case. He concludes that, taking into account both the law and the facts in the two countries, religious minorities in Pakistan are substantially worse off than religious minorities in India, both in regard to their freedom to practise their religion and in regard to their freedom to attract others to their faiths.

Keywords: conversion; Indian Supreme Court; Pakistan Federal Shariat Court; Islamisation; Pakistan; Sarla Mudgal; marriage; Islam; religious freedom

Chapter.  8102 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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