“Forced conversions affect the security of the nation”: the Supreme Court urges the Center to intervene | Latest India News



Forced religious conversions are ‘dangerous’ and affect the nation’s security, the Supreme Court stressed on Monday, as it urged the Union government to ‘step in’ and inform the court of steps taken to prevent such events.

A bench of judges MR Shah and Hima Kohli has given the Center a week to finalize its position on the issue of forced conversions and submit an affidavit, detailing the steps taken so far, as well as those being considered to contain the threat.

“It is a very serious matter. It is seriously against the interest of the nation. Everyone has the right to choose their religion but not by force or by giving any temptation. It is a very dangerous thing the bench observed, as it took up a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by attorney Ashwini Upadhyay, which called for strict measures to control religious conversion through fraud and intimidation.

On September 23, the court issued notices to the Union Departments of Home Affairs, Law, and Justice to file their counter affidavits. However, no affidavit was filed by the Center when the case went to the bench on Monday.

“Why didn’t you file your counter? This is a very serious matter and sincere efforts must be made,” the judiciary asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Center.

For his part, Mehta pointed out that there had been state legislations to prevent forced conversions and the Supreme Court upheld them when such laws were challenged.

“There may be freedom of religion, but no freedom of forced conversion. What measures have been taken by the Union of India? Otherwise it is very difficult…please be very clear. What action do you suggest? Conversion is provided for by the Constitution but not forced conversion,” retorted the bench.

At this point, the SG gave examples where deceptions are made to convert his conscience by offering rice and wheat in certain parts of the country. “In the tribal areas, it’s endemic,” he added.

The bench replied, “So, now you step in.”

The court then issued a short order, seeking the government’s affidavit by November 22 and settling the case on November 28.

“The matter of so-called conversion of religion, if found to be correct and true, is a very serious matter which may ultimately affect the security of the nation as well as the freedom of religion and conscience of citizens. Therefore , it is best for the Union government to clarify its position and indicate what further steps can be taken by the Union and/or others to curb such forced conversion, perhaps by force, seduction or fraudulent means,” the bench said in its order.

Upadhyay, in his petition, argued that the central government has failed to control incidents of forced conversions, which are rampant among economically disadvantaged people, especially those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This, he said, not only violates the constitutional rights to equality, life and liberty, religion, but is also contrary to the principles of secularism, which is an integral part of the structure of base.

History of Anti-Conversion Law in IndiaIndia has a long history of anti-conversion laws dating back to the pre-independence era. While the British did not enact any laws, many princely states did so to restrict missionary activity. Some examples of such legislation are: Raigarh State Conversion Act, 1936, Patna Freedom of Religion Act, 1942, Sarguja State Apostasy Act, 1945, Udaipur State Anti-Conversion Act, 1946. been enacted. in Bikaner, Jodhpur, Kalahandi and Kota.

After independence in 1954, Parliament considered the Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill. Six years later another law, the Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill, 1960, was proposed to stop the conversion. Both bills failed due to lack of parliamentary support. The last attempt at central legislation was in 1978, when an All India Religious Freedom Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai. However, it was never discussed and was dropped after the government fell in July 1979.

Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh passed anti-conversion laws in 1967, 1968 and 1978 respectively. Later, similar laws were passed by at least seven other states, including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

A Constitution bench in Rev Stainislaus Vs State of Madhya Pradesh (1977) upheld the anti-coversion laws of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, asserting that the freedom to propagate one’s religion, as stipulated in Article 25 (1 ), did not grant a fundamental right to convert another person. The bench ruled that a “deliberate conversion” would undermine the “freedom of conscience” guaranteed to all citizens.

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