Public interest litigation (hereinafter referred to as “PIL”) has been filed before the Hon’ble SC by the Bharatiya Janata Party (hereinafter referred to as “BJP”) leaders and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking guidelines and directions to central and state governments to take appropriate measures for controlling black magic, superstition and forceful religious conversions in India.
The Petitioner while presenting his opinions before the Hon’ble SC has relied upon the Sarla Mudgal Case (1995) 3 SCC6 635, wherein the Hon’ble court has issued directions to the Centre to establish the possibility of enacting an Anti-Conversion Law.
Additionally, the petitioner submitted before the Hon’ble court that the incidents of forceful religious conversion by “carrot and stick”, use of black magic, etc., are reported every week all over the country. The Petitioner further specified that the victims of such forceful conversions are generally socially and economically underprivileged people, predominantly belonging to the SC-ST.
This not only violates the fundamental rights granted to the citizen of India under Articles 14, 21, 25 of the Indian Constitution but is also in contradiction of the principles of secularism, which is a fundamental part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India, the petitioner stated.
Subsequently, the petitioner alleged that the Government has failed to take any concrete action against these menaces of the society. The petitioner also remarked that it is essential to make special provisions for the benefit of women and children under Article 15 (3) and freedom of conscience, free profession, practice, and propagation of religion under Article 25 is subject to public order, morality, health and other provisions of Part-III under Indian Constitution. Moreover, the petitioner said that the Centre is empowered to make special provisions.
Furthermore, the petitioner in his PIL filed before the Hon’ble Court emphasized upon the directive principles of state policy (hereinafter referred to as “DPSP”) and stated that the affirmative instructions to the Centre to secure social, economic, and political Justice; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity and to promote among them fraternity, assuring the dignity of individual, unity, and integrity are all mentioned under Indian Constitution. Nevertheless Centre has been unsuccessful to implement any of them and not take steps to secure high ideals outlined in Preamble and Part-III of the Indian Constitution.
Besides this, the Petitioner also mentioned that the “Centre-States are obligated under Article 46 of the Indian Constitution to protect SC-ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation. The petitioner further asserts in his PIL filed before the Hon’ble Apex Court that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution secures religious freedom that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. Thus, it is crystal clear that religious conversion by using miracles, superstition, black magic, and hypocrisy is not protected under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, the petitioner determined.
In due course the Petitioner has also referred to the provisions in International Law, to contend that the State is obligated and duty-bound to protect its people from intimidation that affects their freedom of religion. For instance, Article 18(2) of the International Covenant on Civil-Political Rights states: “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Article 18(3) thereof states: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedom of others.” Article 1(2) of the Declaration on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief states: “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.”
Finally, the Petitioner has therefore urged the Hon’ble Court to direct the Centre and States to take appropriate steps to control black magic, superstition, and religious conversion by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits.
The Petitioner also pleads that a Committee may be appointed to enact a Conversion of Religion Act, to check the abuse of religion in the spirit of the direction given by the Hon’ble Court in the Sarla Mudgal case.
Necessary to mention that the Hon’ble SC in the Sarla Mudgal case, held that the “Government may also consider the probability 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 Budh. Provision may be made for maintenance and succession etc. also to avoid the clash of interest after death. This would go a long way to solve the problem and pave the way for a unified civil code.”
Consecutively, the Petitioner put forward that the Law Commission of India may prepare a Report on Black Magic, Superstition, and Religious Conversion within three months in spirit of the Judgment in Sarla Mudgal case.
Furthermore, the petitioner opined that Hon’ble SC being a guardian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights granted under the Indian Constitution may use its unlimited constitutional power to pass orders to stop conversion by carrot and the stick.
In this context, the Petitioner has cited the Mohammed Ishaq versus S. Kazam Pasha & Anr., (2009) 12 SCC 748 and submits that it is authorized to develop a new principle of liability to make the definite remedy to enforce fundamental rights effectively, and to do comprehensive justice to the aggrieved person.
Lastly, the petitioner in his PIL quoted that the “Hon’ble court is not helpless and the wide powers given to the Hon’ble Court by Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, which is a fundamental right and imposes a constitutional obligation on the Hon’ble Court to falsifying such new tools, which may be necessary for doing complete justice and enforcing the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution”.