Missionaries have the legal right to promote Christianity unless they use illegal methods to carry out their activities, the Tamil Nadu government has told the Supreme Court, reported the Hindustan Times on Monday.

“Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees every citizen the right to propagate his religion,” an affidavit filed by the state government said. “Therefore, the acts of missionaries spreading Christianity by itself cannot be seen as something against the law.”

The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government filed the affidavit in response to a plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged cases of forcible conversions. Upadhyay also sought direction to the Law Commission of India to prepare a draft of an anti-conversion law.

In its affidavit, the Tamil Nadu government said that anti-conversion laws are prone to being misused against minorities and added that individuals should be allowed to freely choose their religion, according to the Hindustan Times.

It also apprised the court that no incident of forceful conversion has been reported in the state in the last few years.

“The citizens of the country should be allowed freely to choose their religion and it would not be appropriate for the government to put spokes to their personal belief and privacy,” the DMK government said.

It also stated that the Constitution does not give a fundamental right to any person to convert others to their own religion. “But it gives a right to any person to propagate his religion,” the government said. “Likewise, the Constitution does not prevent any person from getting converted to the religion of his choice.”

In January, the Supreme Court had warned Upadhyay against filing multiple petitions before different benches of the top court and the Delhi High Court on “forced religious conversions”.

“You cannot keep on withdrawing and filing new petitions,” the court had told him.

Also read: Petitions dismissed thrice, the SC is finally hearing a BJP leader’s plea on ‘forced’ conversion