New Delhi [India], April 9 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to take steps to control religious conversion by intimidating, threatening or deceivingly luring unwitting individuals with gifts or monetary benefits or by using miracles, superstition, and black magic.
A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman expressing strong displeasure on the plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said the PIL was a "publicity interest litigation".
The Bench also threatened to impose heavy cost on the petitioner, thereafter Upadhyay's advocate withdrew the plea.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed seeking direction to the Centre to ascertain the feasibility of appointing a Committee to enact a Conversion of Religion Act to check the abuse of religion in spirit of the direction in a judgement of Supreme Court.
It further asked to direct the Law Commission of India to prepare a Report on black magic, superstition and religious conversion within three months in spirit of the Judgment in Sarla Mudgal case of apex court.
On May 10, 1995, the Supreme Court in Sarla Mudgal case directed to find out the feasibility of enacting Anti Conversion Law but the Centre did nothing to stop deceitful religious conversions, the petition said.
It further said that alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights, the Court may use its plenary constitutional power to pass direction to stop conversion by carrot and the stick, plea stated.
In his plea, Upadhyay said that India is a victim of religious conversions for many centuries and therefore, it is the duty of the state to take appropriate steps to stop religious conversion of socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, particularly of the SC-STs community, being done by intimidating, threatening and various other methods.
There is not even one district in the country which is free of black magic, superstition and religious conversion by the carrot and the stick, the plea said, adding that incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening etc. but Centre has not taken appropriate steps to stop these menaces of society.
"It is necessary to state with dismay that the Government has done little or nothing to stop religious conversions by force and luring gifts and money etc. Evidence of deceitful religious conversion is available in social media, particularly on YouTube and Facebook. Foreign-funded individuals and NGOs are given a road map and monthly target of religious conversion. It is necessary to state that as per 2011 census, Hindus are 79 per cent and down from 86 per cent in 2001, (most importantly 79 per cent including millions converted continue to record them as Hindus to get a reservation in jobs and other benefits)," the petition said.
The petition further stated that many individuals and organisations have started conversions of SC-STs in rural areas and the situation is very alarming. "The mass religious conversion of the socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and, in particular of the SC and ST community, is on the rise in the last 20 years," the petition stated.
The organisations operate very smoothly targeting socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and in particular of the SC and ST community, with fraudulent tricks such as mass prayers of miracle healing and marketing campaigns of black magic, the plea said.
The petitin said that the Centre must enact Anti Conversion Law and get it implemented throughout India.
"The Law should have in-depth scrutiny on foreign funds as many individuals operate under the veil of NGOs. The Law should also include provisions to restrict foreign NGOs from entering India during national calamities. Initially, the NGOs extend help but gradually, they start converting affected poor people, finding an opportunity as they are vulnerable and need help during calamity," the petition further stated. (ANI)