Acts of charity are welcome, but they should not be done with the motive of religious conversion, the Supreme Court observed on Monday, according to Live Law.
Justices MR Shah made the statement on a plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking directions to the Union and state governments to take steps to prevent black magic, superstition and forceful religious conversions.
A bench of Justices Shah and CT Ravikumar is hearing the matter.
On Monday, the court noted that alluring citizens to convert to other religions by offering medicines and food grains was a serious matter.
“If you believe that particular persons should be helped, help them but it can’t be for conversion,” Shah said. “Allurement is very dangerous. It is a very serious issue and is against the basic structure of our Constitution. Everyone who stays in India, will have to act as per the culture of India.”
To this, Ravikumar added: “And religious harmony as well.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that even the Constitution does not allow wrongful propagation of religion by a citizen.
Mehta also said the Centre has been gathering data from the states on religious conversion. He told the judges that several states have made laws to form committees which determine whether the conversions were “in lieu of of grains, medicines or whether it is a real religious change of heart”.
The solicitor general also told the court that Gujarat had introduced a stringent law against illegal conversions but the High Court has stayed some of its provisions.
The Gujarat High Court had put a stay on several sections of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act on August 19, 2021. The law had been passed in April last year to stop the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion”.
Last week, the Gujarat government moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
On Monday, the Supreme Court bench, however, said that it cannot consider Gujarat’s application in the case if its special leave petition is not listed in the present plea. Meanwhile, the court also refused to take up applications on the maintainability of the petition after the matter was raised twice, reported Bar and Bench.
The court will hear the case next on December 12.
In his petition, Upadhyay has argued that the victims of forced religious conversions are often socially and economically underprivileged, particularly belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
This not only offends Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty), 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) of the Constitution but is also against the principles of secularism, which is an integral part of the basic structure of Constitution, he submitted.