Supreme Court notice to Centre over fraudulent religious conversion

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL, seeking a direction to control fraudulent religious conversion and those carried out by intimidation, threat, deceit, and through gifts and monetary benefits.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and Krishna Murari agreed to examine the matter after hearing advocate-petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The court sought a reply from the Union government’s Ministries of Law and Home to the petition.

Citing alleged suicide by a 17-year-old girl, Lavanya on January 19, in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, the petitioner filed the plea, claiming the Centre and States have failed to control the menace of deceitful religious conversion, though it is their duty under Articles 14, 21, 25 of the Constitution.

“Lavanya’s untimely demise is a wake-up call. It reminds people of evangelists’ imperialistic goals. Indeed, it reminds people of how an elaborate plan has been used to uproot Hinduism-Secularism. In fact, many more Lavanyas have been compelled to take such drastic measures as a result of such coercive-persuasive tactics,” the plea contended.

The plea said Article 25 protects the right of all persons to enjoy the freedom of conscience, necessarily implying, freedom without intimidation, threat, undue coercion or misguided material lure.

“The content of constitutionally guaranteed freedom loses its essence and Article 25 is denuded of its content when the State fails to adopt and implement sufficient measures to ensure that unlawful, coercive and forceful conversions are prohibited,” it said.

The ignominy of having to lose one’s freedom of conscience on illicit lures of material benefits is the ultimate exploitation which the Constitution surely does not envisage protected under Article 25, it added.

The petitioner also claimed the situation is alarming as many individuals and organisations are carrying out mass conversions of SC-STs in rural areas for the last two decades.

Source : Deccan Herald

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