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BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay in a Public Interest Litigation had sought directions to ascertain the feasibility of appointing a Committee to enact a Conversion of Religion Act to check the abuse of religion. Hearing the PIL today, the Supreme Court has observed, a person above the age of 18 years is free to choose a religion of his or her choice. Bar and Bench reported that Upadhyay will approach law Ministry and Law Commission for enactment of laws to redress his grievances. 

Upadhyay in his petition contended the religious conversion by ‘carrot and stick’ and by ‘hook or crook’ not only offends Articles 14, 21, 25, but is also against the principles of secularism, which is an integral part of basic structure of the Constitution. The Petitioner has relied upon the Sarla Mudgal Case (1995) 3 SCC6 635, whereby directions were issued to the Centre to ascertain the feasibility of enacting an Anti-Conversion Law.

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In Sarla Mudgal (supra), the Top Court had said,

“The Government may also consider the feasibility of appointing a Committee to enact Conversion of Religion Act, immediately, to check the abuse of religion by any person. 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 Budhist. 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.”

The plea made by Upadhyay also said, the Central and State government have failed to control the menace of black magic, superstition and deceitful religious conversion, though it’s their duty under Article 51 A. A bench of Justices R.F. Nariman, B.R. Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy told senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayana, appearing for petitioner advocate Upadhyay, “What kind of writ petition is this under Article 32. We will impose a heavy cost on you. You argue on your own risk”. 

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Recently, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh governments have passed bills against ‘Love Jihad’ and these laws have been challenged at the Supreme Court. 

It is to be noted that Upadhyay also has filed a petition against the Places Of Worship Act (Special Provisions), 1991. A Politician, BJP spokesperson, lawyer and engineer, Upadhyay is known for filing multiple Public Interest Litigations in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court. 

Also read:Love jihad: SC agrees to review the validity of anti-conversion laws



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November 2023


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