Religious conversion should not be given political colour, says Supreme Courttext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday observed that religious conversion is a serious issue in the country and it should not be given a political colour.
The court asked Attorney General R Venkataramani's assistance on a plea seeking direction to the Centre and states to take action to control fraudulent religious conversions. The bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar asked Adv. Venkataramani to appear in the matter. The petitioner advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has sought the court to check on religious conversions through "intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits." The plea demands the assistance of an amicus curiae.
"The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because there is not even one district that is free of religious conversion by hook and crook. Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and also by using black magic, superstition, miracles but Centre and States have not taken stringent steps to stop this menace," he claimed in the petition.
The bench asked the assistance of AG to figure out what means are being used to allure people to religious conversions. "If that is happening, when and what should be done? What are the corrective measures?."
Senior advocate P Wilson appeared for Tamil Nadu and called the petition "politically motivated" and insisted that there was no question of forced conversions in the state.
The top court took his objection and said court proceedings should not be converted to other things. "You may have different reasons to be agitated like this. 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 bench further termed forced religious conversions a serious issue as it may pose "a danger to national security and impinge on the religious freedom of citizens."
In an earlier hearing, the Gujarat government stated that the freedom of religion does not include the right to convert others and requested it to vacate a high court stay on the provision of a state law that mandates prior permission of the district magistrate for conversion through marriage.
The next hearing is on February 7.