Supreme Court agrees to hear Madhya Pradesh’s plea against HC order on anti-conversion law
The High Court had said that a provision requiring a person to inform the administration before converting to another religion was prima facie unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the Madhya Pradesh government’s plea challenging a High Court order that stops the state from taking action against those who have converted their religion without informing the district magistrate, reported PTI.
On November 17, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had said the provision under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, that requires a person to inform the district administration before converting was prima facie unconstitutional.
According to Section 10 of the Act, persons who wish to convert to other religion need to submit a declaration to the district magistrate 60 days in advance, stating that they are not doing so under any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement.
Those who do not comply with the provision can be punished with a jail term of three to five years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made repeated requests before the Supreme Court to quash the High Court order, reported Live Law.
To this, the Supreme Court said: “All religious conversions cannot be illegal.”
Mehta argued that marriage is used for illegal conversions and “we cannot turn a blind eye” to this.
However, the bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar refused to quash the order and issued notice on the matter. The court will now hear the case on February 7.
The anti-conversion law, which was notified last year, also has provisions for a prison term of up to 10 years for anyone found guilty of using marriage to force someone to change their religion.
The law follows a campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party against interfaith marriages. The party describes such marriages as “love jihad,” a debunked Hindutva idea that Muslim men romantically lure Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam.
Since 2017, five states, all led by BJP governments, have either passed new anti-conversion laws or updated existing ones. The new versions of the laws put in place stricter punishments and newer grounds for restricting conversions, such as conversion “by marriage”.