Supreme Court Rejects PIL Seeking Action Against Fraudulent Religious Conversions

The Supreme Court, on a recent Wednesday, declined to consider a petition requesting the Central government to take measures to combat deceptive religious conversions in India.

A bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, along with Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, expressed reluctance to wade into this issue, questioning the court’s authority to issue a writ of mandamus to the government. The petitioner, Jerome Anto, represented by a lawyer from Karnataka, contended that both Hindus and minority groups were being subjected to fraudulent conversions.

The bench dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), stating that the court could only entertain such matters if there was an ongoing challenge or persecution. They also criticized the proliferation of such PILs, remarking that PILs were being increasingly misused.

The PIL, presented by lawyer Bharti Tyagi, named the Central government and all states as respondents and sought a Supreme Court directive to address religious conversions. It argued that fraudulent religious conversions, involving intimidation, threats, deceptive enticements through gifts and monetary incentives, violated Articles 14 (right to equality), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty), and 25 (freedom to practice and propagate religion) of the Constitution.

Additionally, it called for the Center and states to adopt rigorous measures to curb such conversions. Alternatively, it proposed that the Law Commission of India be instructed to prepare a report and legislation to address “Deceitful Religious Conversion” within three months, aligning with Articles 14, 21, and 25. However, the bench reiterated that they were not in an advisory role and dismissed the plea.

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