Top court refuses to entertain BJP leader Ashwani K Upadhyay’s PIL seeking to check fraudulent religious conversions
New Delhi, April 9
Maintaining that an adult is free to choose a religion of his or her choice, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a BJP leader’s PIL seeking directions to ban black magic, superstition and fraudulent religious conversions.
“We don’t see a reason why a person above 18 years can’t choose his or her religion,” a Bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said, terming Upadhyay’s PIL a “publicity interest litigation”.
The top court said there was a reason why the word “propagate” figured in Article 25 of the Constitution, which guaranteed right to religion.
Upadhyay — a Delhi BJP leader and an advocate– had sought directions to the Centre and states to ban black magic, superstition and fraudulent and forcible religious conversions. He wanted the top court to ask the government to appoint a committee to ascertain the feasibility of enacting anti-conversion law to check the abuse of religion.
Highlighting incidents of forceful religious conversion by “carrot and stick” and use of black magic “reported every week throughout the country, Upadhyay had pointed out that the Supreme Court had in the Sarla Mudgal Case (1995) directed the Centre to ascertain the feasibility of enacting an anti-conversion law.
“The law may provide that every citizen who changes his religion cannot marry another wife unless he divorces his first wife. The provision should be made applicable to every person whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Sikh or a Jain or a Buddhist. Provision may be made for maintenance and succession etc. also to avoid clash of interest after death…This would go a long way to solve the problem and pave the way for a unified civil code,” he had submitted, quoting from the Sarla Mudgal verdict.
Terming forceful as a violation of right to equality, right to life and liberty and right to religion guaranteed under Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution, he had said it was also against the principles of secularism – an integral part of basic structure of Constitution.
Alternately, he had demanded that the Law Commission should be asked to prepare a report on “Black Magic, Superstition and Religious Conversion within three months in spirit of the Judgment in Sarla Mudgal Case.”
The SC refused to entertain a PIL seeking an independent probe into the Nandigram episode in which Mamata Banerjee allegedly got injured. Top court asks petitioners to approach the Calcutta High Court.