Supreme Court Issues Notice To Centre On Plea Seeking Action Against Deceitful Religious Conversions
The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Centre on a plea seeking action against deceitful religious conversion by "intimidation" and through "gifts and monetary benefits."
A Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Krishna Murari issued notices to the Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice.
The plea was moved by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay through Advocate Ashwini Kumar Dubey who sought direction to the Centre and States to take stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversion by "intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits."
The Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution also seeks appropriate writ/order/direction to the National Investigation Agency/Central Bureau of Investigation and/or National Human Right Commission/ National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to investigate the root cause of death of a 17-year-old girl named Lavanya who committed suicide and died on January 19, 2022, in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
The Petitioner also seeks a declaration that fraudulent religious conversion and religious conversion by intimidation, threatening, deceivingly, and luring through gifts and monetary benefits offends Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
The Petitioner has pleaded that "There is not even on district which is free of religious conversion by 'hook and crook and the carrot and the stick.' Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts/monetary benefits and also using black magic, superstition, miracles but Centre has not taken stringent steps to stop this menace."
Upadhyay has also submitted that this is a nationwide problem which needs to be tackled immediately.
The Petitioner has sought direction to the Law Commission of India to prepare a Report as well as a Bill to control 'Deceitful religious conversion' within three months in the spirit of Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
Furthermore, it has also been urged by the Petitioner, "If the religious conversions won't be checked, Hindus will gradually become a minority throughout the territory of India, which was at a time considered a Hindu majority country."
The questions of law involved in the Petition are –
"i) Whether deceitful religious conversion offends Articles 14, 21 and 25.
ii) Whether Centre is obligated to control deceitful religious conversion.
iii) Whether Apex Court can direct the Law Commission to draft a Bill."
The Apex Court has asked the parties to file a reply by November 14.
In January this year, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe into the suicide of a minor girl, allegedly due to torture on account of resisting pressure by school authorities to convert to Christianity.
A Bench of the Apex Court comprising of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M. Trivedi had issued notice on the appeals filed by the State of Tamil Nadu and the management of the School, against the Judgment of the Madras High Court only against the observations made in the Judgment against the Police etc., while clarifying that investigation entrusted to the CBI will continue in the meanwhile.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had prepared its inquiry report in the matter of suicide, finding serious faults with the school authorities and making recommendations to the state. Later, the Apex Court permitted the NCPCR to intervene in the pending appeal and produce documents in a sealed cover.