Forced conversions are a serious issue: Centre tells Supreme Court
In its submission, the Centre said that 'it is important to protect the vulnerable sections of the society.'
The Central government on Monday responded to the Supreme Court over forced conversions, terming it as a 'serious issue.' While reiterating that law and order is a state subject, the Centre made it clear that such laws are necessary to protect society's vulnerable sections.
The Supreme Court had sought the Centre's view after an application was filed in the top court seeking direction to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Indian Penal Code to stop religious conversion by 'intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits'.
The petitioner, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, also sought direction to the Centre to review the visa rules for Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) rules for foreign-funded NGOs and individuals and for foreign missionaries and religious preachers.
The Supreme Court had observed that forced religious conversion could threaten national security and impinge on citizens' religious freedom. The court had asked the Centre to step in and sincerely tackle the 'very serious' issue.
The court had granted the Centre until November 28 and asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to enumerate measures to curb forced conversions.
The Centre, in its affidavit, reportedly highlighted that the fundamental right to convert other people to a particular faith is not included in the right of freedom of religion. It enumerated the legislations introduced in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Haryana and Uttarakhand to tackle forced conversion.
The affidavit said, 'It is submitted that enactments in the nature of the Acts, which seek to control and curb the menace of sophisticated, organized and large-scale religious conversions have been upheld by this Hon'ble court. It is submitted that the Union of India is cognizant of the seriousness and the gravity of the issue raised in the present writ petition. It is submitted that such enactments are necessary for protecting cherished rights of vulnerable sections of society, including the economically and socially backward classes and women.'