The Delhi High Court on March 13th, 2020, declined to consider a PIL for regulating and stopping religious conversions saying religion was a matter of personal belief and whether to convert to a different faith or not was choice of an individual.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked to advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to withdraw the petition, saying we did not want to reject it.
When the matter came up for consideration, the bench said professing a religion was a matter of personal belief and whether to convert to a different religion was an individual’s choice.
In his plea, Upadhyay contended that many individuals, NGOs and institutions are converting downtrodden persons, particularly of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community, by “intimidating, threatening, luring by monetary benefits and by other acts, including miracle healing, black magic and more”.
In his petition, Upadhyay said India was a victim of religious conversions for many centuries. It was necessary to state with dismay that the government has done little or nothing to stop religious conversions by force and luring gifts and money through the mass religious conversion of the socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and, in particular of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe community.
The bench, however, asked him, “Tell us how can we regulate it? What will we regulate? If someone is threatening someone or intimidating someone, it is an offence under the Indian Penal Code.”
The court also said that there was no reason for an individual to succumb to threats, intimidation or allurement to convert to a different faith.
Photo credit: Scroll