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OVERVIEW

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court by Learned Advocate and eminent BJP Leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which sought directions to the Central Government and the State Governments to undertake steps to regulate and control black magic, forceful religious conversions and other superstitions.

The PIL also sought directions from the Hon’ble Court to legislate Conversion of Religion Act and the establishment of a committee to draft such legislation. The plea prayed for such Act to check the abuse of religion.

It also concerns itself with misuse of court resources and thus urged the Court to ascertain the feasibility of establishing such committee before any such appointment in this regard is made.

The plea also brings to the attention of the Court, the gross abuse of religious conversions through gifts and monetary benefits.

The petition also refers to the case, Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India and Ors. (1995) 3 SCC6 635, where the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to draft legislations discouraging the fraudulent or forceful conversion of religion by the name of Anti-Conversion Act.

BACKGROUND

The political activist Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had earlier filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court in which it had sought directions from the court to regulate the conversions of religion of individuals through fraudulent means by promising gifts and well-being through black magic and other superstitious practices.

The Delhi High Court had opined that the conversion of religion is a matter of individual choice and the court would prefer to abstain from entertaining such plea. The Court further said that the forceful conversion of religion has been recognised as an offence under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, and the rest of the matters could be ruled as the personal beliefs of the individuals.

Following such decision of the Court, the Advocate withdrew his PIL after having obtained the approval of such Court to approach appropriate forum regarding his unresolved concern about the same.

Such withdrawal of the writ by the Advocate took place on the 13th of March, 2020.

DETAILS OF THE PLEA

The plea states that "Religious conversion by 'carrot and stick' and by 'hook or crook' not only offends Articles 14, 21, 25, but is also against the principles of secularism, which is integral part of basic structure of Constitution. Petitioner states with dismay that the Centre and the States have failed to control the menace of black magic, superstition and deceitful religious conversion though it is their duty under Article 51A."

It further points out that "Centre-States are obligated under Article 46 to protect SC-ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation."

The petitioner claims the cause of action for their current plea arose when the Centre failed to adopt adequate measures to act on the directions provided by the apex Court to bring about legislations related to anti-conversion.

The plea states, “Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where religious conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and by using black magic, superstition, miracles and hypocrisy but the Centre has not taken appropriate steps to stop these menaces of society. It is necessary to state that under Article 51A, it is the duty of the Centre to: abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions; uphold and protect unity and integrity; promote harmony and spirit of brotherhood; renounce the practices derogatory to dignity of women; value and preserve rich heritage of our composite culture; develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform; and strive towards excellence in all individual and collective activities.”

CONCLUSION

The Petitioner urges that “that the population explosion and the religious conversion by "the carrot and the stick" is a national problem hence Centre must enact a strong and effective population control law and anti-conversion law on top priority.”

The petition also refers to the International Covenant on Civil-Political Rights, Section 18(2) of which states that "No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice."

The plea further proposed that the National Human Rights Commission may be empowered by the Central Government to monitor the affairs of the various religious groups carrying out an in-depth analysis of religious discrimination by them on various occasions.

"Due to population explosion and deceitful religious conversion, Hindus have become minority in nine States and UTs and the situation is worsening day by day," the plea said.


HOW MUCH DO YOU AGREE WITH THE CONTENTIONS AND CONCERNS PUT FORTH IN THE PLEA? DO LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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