Plea challenging religious conversion: SC seeks AG’s assistance

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought the assistance of the Attorney General (AG) of India, R Venkataramani in a plea seeking to take immediate steps against the alleged forceful and deceitful religious conversions in the country.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice MR Shah and also comprising Justice CT Ravikumar, turned down the opposition of the Tamil Nadu government against a fresh petition in the matter seeking a probe by the National Investigation of India (NIA) into the death of a student in Thanjavur.

The counsel for Tamil Nadu government stated that the fresh plea was baseless and the Court should not entertain the same.

The fresh plea was filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, has sought stringent steps to tackle forceful religious conversions. The public interest litigation (PIL) petition has claimed that fraudulent and deceitful religious conversion is rampant across the country, and that the Central government has failed to control its menace.

“This is a politically motivated PIL. There is no question of such conversions in Tamil Nadu. Let the legislature decide such things,” Senior Advocate P Wilson submitted on behalf of Tamil Nadu.

The bench, however, was unhappy with the State, and said, it has already decided to examine the issue that it deemed a serious one.

“We are concerned for the entire country, all the States. 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,” Justice Shah remarked.

The Central government in its affidavit has taken the stance that fundamental right to practice and propagate any religion under the Constitution does not include any fundamental right to convert people.

At today’s hearing, the bench at the request of Senior Counsel Sanjay Hegde, changed the causetitle of the case to In Re: Issue of Religious Conversions.

The Apex Court directed Tamil Nadu to file its response to the fresh plea on Thanjavur suicide and fixed the matter for further hearing in February.

UNI

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