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There Is Freedom Of Religion, But No Freedom On Forced Conversion: Supreme Court Of India

A two-judge Bench of Justices M R Shah and Hima Kohli was hearing a petition of Advocate Ashwini Upadhayay regarding the forced religious conversions in the country. During the hearing, the Bench observed that forced religious conversions are dangerous and might affect national security. The Supreme Court (SC) asked the central government of India to take serious and sincere efforts to stop such conversions.


 


Petition


A petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Upadhayay sought the SC to declare that the religious conversion by ‘intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits’ violates Articles 14, 21, and 25 of the Indian Constitution. In addition to that, the petition sought the apex court to direct the Central and State governments to take action against such conversions.


 


Ashwini Upadhayay wrote in his petition, “The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because there is not even one district which is free of religious conversions by hook and crook and the carrot and the stick.”


 


Upadhayay made a mention of the SC judgement in the Rev Stainislaus Vs State of Madhya Pradesh case, in which the SC observed, “It has to be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees freedom of conscience to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion and that, in turn, postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one’s own religion. This is because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the freedom of conscience guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike.”


 


SC’s observation


The Supreme Court said, “The issue with respect to the alleged conversion of religion if it is found to be correct and true, is a very serious issue which may ultimately affect the security of the nation as well as the freedom of religion and conscience of the citizens. Therefore, it is better that the Union government may make their stand clear and file counter on what steps can be taken by Union and state governments to curb such forced conversions, maybe by force, allurement or fraudulent means.”


 


Since the Union government did not file its response to the petition, the SC asked the Union government why it had not done so. The apex court also asked the Union government to file its answer before November 22. 


 


The two-judge Bench added, “There may be freedom of religion, but no freedom of forced conversion. What steps have been taken by the Union of India? Make your stand very clear. What action do you propose to take? Conversion is there under the constitution, but not forcible conversion.”


 


The two-judge Bench added, “There may be freedom of religion, but no freedom of forced conversion. What steps have been taken by the Union of India? Make your stand very clear. What action do you propose to take? Conversion is there under the constitution, but not forcible conversion.”


 


Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Union government, said that some state governments had made laws against forced conversions in the past, and the SC did uphold those laws. Also, he referred to the conversion cases where poor people were converted by giving them rice. In response of which, the SC said, “So you have to step in now.”


 


Edited by Sara Irfan


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Tags: #SupremeCourt #Judiciary #ForcedConversions #Conversions



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