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'Don't give political colour', SC to TN on plea against religious conversion

By LawStreet News Network      10 January, 2023 12:17 AM      0 Comments
'Don't give political colour', SC to TN on plea against religious conversion

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said religious conversion is a serious issue which should not be given a political colour, as it sought assistance of Attorney General R Venkataramani to decide a plea for stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversions.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar asked Venkataramani to appear in the matter in which the petitioner sought a check on religious conversions through "intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits", and assist as amicus curiae.

Taking up a PIL by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the bench told the AG, "We want your assistance. Religious conversions by force, allurement etc. There are ways and ways, anything by allurement, if that is happening, then what should be done? What are the corrective measures?"

Senior advocate P Wilson, appearing for Tamil Nadu, described the plea by Upadhyay as a "politically motivated" PIL, insisting there was no question of such conversions in the state.

Taking objection to his remark, the bench told Wilson, "You may have different reasons to be agitated like this. Don't convert court proceedings into other things. We are concerned for the entire state. If it is happening in your state, it is bad. If not, good. Do not see it as targeting one state. Do not make it political."

The court also ordered renaming the cause title 'In Re: Issue of Religious Conversion' as lawyers objected to the petition filed by Upadhyay in his own name.

In a written submission, Upadhyay said women and children are the main targets of “foreign-funded” religious conversion in the country as the Centre and state governments have failed to take appropriate steps to check it.

He said that the legal vacuum on the issue has led to deployment of “unethical predatory conversion strategies” to convert socially and economically backward citizens.

On December 5, the top court had observed that religious conversion should not be the purpose of charity and forced religious conversion is a "serious issue" which is against the spirit of the Constitution.

The plea sought stringent steps to control funding through hawala and other routes to further religious conversions.

He also sought a direction to the Law Commission of India to suggest suitable legislation and Guidelines to check unlawful fraudulent religious conversion.

His plea also sought a direction to the Centre and states to take steps to confiscate ‘benami’ properties and disproportionate assets of persons and institutions involved in “fraudulent religious conversion”.

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