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"It Is One's Personal Choice To Follow Whatever Religion He Wants": Delhi HC Dismisses PIL Seeking To Control Religious Conversions

Karan Tripathi
13 March 2020 5:24 AM GMT
It Is Ones Personal Choice To Follow Whatever Religion He Wants: Delhi HC Dismisses PIL Seeking To Control Religious Conversions
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The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea moved by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking control on religious conversion through inducement or intimidation.

While refusing to issue notice, the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar gave liberty to the Petitioner to withdraw his petition.

'It's one's personal choice to follow whatever religion they want. You're not even the aggrieved party in this matter, why should we issue notice in this PIL', the Bench asked the Petitioner.

The court observed that the Law Commission in its report had made it clear that the permission of District Magistrate cannot be sought before conversion as practicing a particular religion is one's personal choice.

'What are you looking to regulate? We can't understand your prayer', the court noted.

Highlighting induced religious conversions as a violation of fundamental rights of an individual, the plea demands implementation of the 235th Law Commission Report on Conversions.

It is submitted by the Petitioner that the economically weaker and socially backward sections of society are targeted for forcible religious conversions. He says:

'The mass religious conversion of the socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and, in particular of the schedule caste and schedule tribe community, is on the rise in the last 20 years.'

Petitioner has also pointed out that according to him, there are instances where religious conversions are carried out through black magic or by using miracles.

'The Organizations operate very smoothly targeting socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and in particular of the schedule caste and schedule tribe community, with fraudulent tricks such as mass prayers of miracle healing and marketing campaigns of black magic', the petition states.

It is submitted that the practice of religious conversions not only violates one's fundamental right to preach and practice one's own religion, it also goes against the duties enshrined under Article 51A of the Constitution.

Citing India as a victim of religious conversions for many centuries, the petition submits that it is duty of the State to take appropriate steps to stop religious conversion of socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, particularly of the SC-ST community.

It is also alleged by the Petitioner that foreign funded NGOs and individuals are given monthly targets with respect to religious conversions. Moreover, it is argued, that religious conversions are also being carried out through social media websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

'if no action will be taken by the Government, Hindus will become a minority in India', the petition submits.

In light of these claims, the Petitioner has asked the court to issue directions to both the Union as well as the Delhi Government, to take measures to control forcible religious conversions.

In addition to that, the Petitioner has also asked for the government to religious gatherings, which are intended to mislead people by making false and untenable claims, designed to allegedly lure people to convert to a particular faith or religion.

The Petitioner in this case was represented by Senior Counsel Vikas Singh.

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