The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the right to freedom of religion certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or other such means.
It is “cognizant of the gravity and the seriousness” of the issue, said the Centre in its affidavit filed on a PIL arguing that fraudulent and deceitful religious conversion is uncontrolled across the country.
Such issue of conversion shall be “taken up in all seriousness by the Union of India and appropriate steps shall be taken as the Central government is cognizant of the menace”, the Centre said in its affidavit.
The Centre’s response came on a petition by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay against fraudulent religious conversion and religious conversion by oppression, threatening, and deceivingly attracting through gifts and monetary benefits, as it offends Articles 14, 21, and 25.
In an affidavit, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said, “It is submitted that the right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion. The said right certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or other such means”.
The Centre said nine state governments have already enacted enactments seeking to curb this practice over the years. Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka & Haryana are the states which already have legislation in place on conversion.
Centre told Supreme Court that such enactments are necessary for protecting cherished rights of vulnerable sections of society including women and economically and socially backward classes.