Saturday, February 24, 2024

Delhi HC to hear tomorrow plea seeking curb on forceful religious conversions

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A plea, in the interest of public, has been filed by Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay before the High Court of Delhi seeking control on religious conversions through intimidation, which will be heard tomorrow. The petitioner is a practicing advocate in the High Court and Supreme Court and has filed the present petition purely in larger public interest and in the interest of justice with  no personal gain or  private motive.

The petitioner has prayed for directions to be issued  to the respondents being State of NCT of Delhi, and  Union of India through the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs,  to take apposite steps to control conversion to another religion by intimidating, threatening or deceivingly luring gifts or monetary benefits or by using miracles, superstition and black magic.

The plea also prays for directions to prohibit religious gatherings organised with intent to mislead people or to entice masses who are ignorant in joining a particular faith or religious group by claims of possession of supernatural powers,  that are untrue and exaggerated

The petitioner has also asked for implementation of recommendations of Law Commission Report-235 on Conversion/Reconversion to Another Religion, where emphasis was laid down on framing guidelines for conversion and re conversion in order to avoid conflicts and it was acknowledged that change of religion is conscious choice of an individual based on his belief in God.

The petitioner has quoted the purpose and noble objectives of the Preamble of the Constitution and stating that they were framed with great care and after deliberations  because India is a Social Democratic Republic with a vast majority of people following different religions, where every person is free to profess religion of his choice.

The petition has also quoted few Articles of the Constitution and how the practice of religious conversions are violative of those guarantees

Article 25 supports the concept of religious freedom that, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Article 46 of the Constitution directs the State to take appropriate steps to protect schedule castes and schedule tribes from social injustice and other forms of exploitation

Many individuals, NGOs and institutions are converting by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring monetary benefits and by other acts including miracle healing, black magic and more Such religious conversion is an injustice as well as exploitation.

The petitioner has cited the case of Indian Young Lawyer Association Case (2019) where the Supreme Court had held that in cases of religion and morality, its the duty of the Courts to ensure that what is protected is in conformity with the fundamental constitutional values and constitutional morality. While the constitution recognizes religious beliefs & faiths, its purpose is to ensure a wider acceptance of human dignity and liberty as the ultimate founding faith of the fundamental text of our governance

Religious conversion is also being done through social media especially through youtube, and facebook. Foreign funded individuals and NGOs are given a proper road map and target of religious conversion.

The petition, citing results of the 2011 census, has also shown concern and stated that if no action is  taken by the Government, Hindus will become minority in India. It states that India has already been a victim of religious conversion, and its the duty of the state to take steps and stop the conversion of the socially economically downtrodden masses particularly of the SC-ST community, which has been on the rise in the last 20 years

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