On Friday Delhi High Court said that religion is a personal belief and converting to a different faith or not is an individual’s choice. The bench completely declined to entertain a plea for barring or regulating religious conversions. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar were hearing the PIL filed by the senior BJP leader and Advocate Aswini Kumar Upadhyay. His prayer was to stop religious conversion through inducement and intimidation.
When the petition was being heard in HC, the court stated that professing a religion is a matter of personal belief and conversion to any religion is a personal choice. The bench asked the petitioner itself to suggest about the matter. Justices asked,” what we will regulate? How we will control the conversion. If someone is threatening someone or inducing someone, it is an offence under the IPC,” The bench further added there was no reason for an individual to succumb to threats, intimidation or allurement to convert to a different religion. The court noted that “we are not able to understand your prayer”.
The petitioner in his plea had alleged that many individuals and foreign/locally funded NGO are converting people, particularly of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community, by intimidating, threatening, luring by monetary benefits.
He further stated that these individuals and NGO not only use the money to convert them but they lure these uneducated and vulnerable tribes by miracle healing, black magic an more.
He also claimed that conversion is on the rise in India at a very alarming rate, particularly in SC/ST women and children, the NGOs working in India for conversion are getting large monetary support from the Christian missionaries.
Article 25 supports the concept of religious freedom that, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Article 46 of the Constitution directs the State to take appropriate steps to protect scheduled castes and scheduled tribes from social injustice and other forms of exploitation.
The bench gave the freedom to the petitioner to withdraw the PIL itself because they didn’t want to reject it by themselves.