Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Religious conversion a serious issue, says SC

Says issue should not be given political colour

Observing that religious conversion is a serious issue which should not be given a political colour, the Supreme Court on Monday sought the assistance of the Attorney General of India R Venkataramani on a plea seeking direction to the Centre and states to take stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversions.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar asked Venkataramani to appear in the matter in which petitioner sought a check on religious conversions through “intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits”, and assist as amicus curiae.
“We want your assistance also, AG. Religious conversions by force, allurement etc. There are ways and ways, anything by allurement, if that is happening, when what should be done? What are the corrective measures?” the bench said.
At the outset, senior advocate P Wilson, appearing for Tamil Nadu, called the petition a “politically motivated” PIL, insisting there was no question of such conversions in the state.
The bench took objection and remarked “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 was hearing a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking direction to Centre and states to take tough steps to control fraudulent religious conversions. Forced religious conversion may pose a danger to national security and impinge on the religious freedom of citizens, the top court had said recently and asked the Centre to step in and make sincere efforts to tackle the “very serious” issue.
The court had warned a “very difficult situation” will emerge if proselytisation through deception, allurement and intimidation is not stopped.
The Court had on September 23 sought responses from the Centre and others to the plea. The matter will be heard next on February 7.

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