The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Central government to provide a detailed affidavit after collecting information from the State governments against forced conversions. The SC said the issue of forced or deceitful religious conversion is serious.
Last week the Gujarat Government filed n affidavit in the top court supporting steps to curb forced conversions. During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, "We are getting information from states. In the meanwhile, there's one development - Gujarat has a stringent law. We will collect it within a week."
The bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar said, "Every time we are asking, you say that. It's a very serious matter." To which, SG Mehta said, "There are two ways of conversion: One by means of the allurement of some kind, the other by change of heart towards any particular Religion."
"Charity and social service are good things but there should not be any wrong motive behind conversion," the bench responded. The hearing on the matter will resume on Monday, December 12.
Last week, the Union Government informed Supreme Court that it will take appropriate steps to cease forced conversions in the country. Acknowledging the instances of conversions highlighted by petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, the Centre affirmed that the right of freedom of religion doesn't include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion.
States like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Karnataka have legislation in place on forced conversion as law and order is a state subject. The central government has made it clear that such regulations are needed to safeguard vulnerable sections of society.
Referring to the top court's verdict on the challenge to Madhya Pradesh and Odisha laws pertaining to conversion, the affidavit noted, "It is submitted therefore enactments in the nature of the Acts mentioned above, which seek to control and curb the menace of organised, sophisticated large-scale religious conversion has been upheld by this Hon'ble court. It is submitted that the Union of India is cognisant of the gravity and the seriousness of the issue raised in the present writ petition. It is submitted that such enactments are necessary for protecting cherished rights of vulnerable sections of society including women and economically and socially backward classes."