Cannot direct govts. to frame law on forced religious conversion: HC

Court asks petitioner to substantiate claims of conversions by giving statistics

July 25, 2022 09:07 pm | Updated 09:07 pm IST - New Delhi

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Monday declined to direct the Centre and Delhi government to frame a law to stop forced religious conversions, saying the government was free to make such enactment even without a judicial recommendation.

A Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela said, “If the government is conscious about the issue, it can frame a law. It is in the domain of the legislature. Who is stopping the government from making a law?”.

‘Nobody is stopping them’

“If they [the government] share the same view as you [petitioner] have, nobody is stopping them from making a law. They don’t need court’s liberty or recommendation for it,” the Bench said.

The High Court’s remarks came while hearing a petition by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking directions to frame laws to prohibit religious conversions by intimidating, threatening, or deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits, or by using black magic and superstition.

The Bench asked the petitioner, Mr. Upadhyay, to bring evidence and statistics to buttress his contention about forced religious conversions. “Not a single instance [of forced conversion] is given in your petition,” the Bench remarked.

It asked Mr. Upadhyay to submit an additional affidavit giving instances of forced conversion while posting the case for further hearing on August 31.

Serious allegations

“You bring some material before us, and if the court feels it has substance, we will certainly pursue it. Because the allegations you are making are very serious but there has to be some material,” the High Court said.

The High Court said that Mr. Upadhyay need to substantiate his claims by giving some statistics as the court cannot take cognisance merely of the news reports placed by him on record.

Mr. Upadhyay, in his plea, has stated that religious conversion by “the carrot and the stick” and “by hook or crook” not only offends Articles 14, 15, 21, and 25 of the Constitution but was also against the principles of secularism.

In his plea, Mr. Upadhyay said, “Incidents of massive religious conversion are being reported every day as religious conversion continues by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and by using black magic, superstition, miracles”.

Mr. Upadhyay further stated that “mass conversion” of socially economically, underprivileged people, particularly belonging to SC-ST is on steep rise.

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