SC seeks assistance from Attorney General over forced religious conversion plea

10 January, 2023 | Pravina Srivastava

Supreme Court National

The Supreme Court on Monday requested the aid of R Venkataramani, India's Attorney General, in a petition alleging that false and deceptive religious conversion is widespread throughout the country.

The Supreme Court on Monday requested the aid of R Venkataramani, India’s Attorney General, in a petition alleging that false and deceptive religious conversion is widespread throughout the country.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, after considering the gravity of the situation, requested assistance from the Attorney General. After Tamil Nadu claimed that the lawsuit was “politically motivated” since petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay was a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the Supreme Court retitled it as a “issue of religious conversion”.

Tamil Nadu’s senior attorney, P Wilson, stated “This is a PIL with a political agenda. Such conversions are not permitted in Tamil Nadu. Let the legislature make such decisions.”

Taking a close look at Tamil Nadu’s description of the situation as “Don’t tell us it’s politically driven,” the court remarked, “don’t tell us it’s politically motivated. When we take on a case, we decide it on its merits. It is not the root of the problem.”

The Supreme Court, in remanding the case for further consideration on February 7, stated that the question is what should be done with religious conversions obtained via coercion, allurement, or other means.

The Supreme Court stated that it must analyse the question in its whole.

“We will not entertain allegations or counter-allegations. We are concerned with the entire country, not just one, two, or three states. It’s horrible if it’s occurring in your state. If not, that’s OK. It is not aimed towards a single country. Make it non-political “said the bench.

Furthermore, the court stated that there is no statute or provision in the Indian Penal Code dealing with forced/wrongful conversion.

Previously, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to file a thorough affidavit after gathering information on anti-conversion legislation from state governments, stating that the issue of coerced or deceptive religious conversion is significant.