When dealing with a complaint about forced religious conversions, the Delhi High Court stated that everyone has the right to select and profess any religion they like, claiming that this is a constitutional right.
When hearing a case against forced religious conversions on Friday, the Delhi High Court said that everyone has the right to select and practise any religion they want, and that this is a constitutional right.
“If someone is compelled to convert, that’s a different issue,” a bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Tushar Rao Gedela said, “but to convert is a person’s prerogative.”
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by BJP politician and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who requested that the Centre and Delhi government outlaw religious conversion using coercion, threats, fraud, or “the use of black magic and superstition.”
The bench interrogated the petitioner on the basis of his plea during the hearing.
The bench remarked, “You’ve given three Supreme Court judgements, and the rest is your averment.”
When challenged for data on the petitioner’s claims of widespread conversion, he said he had it from social media platforms.
“Social media is not data,” the judge explained. It’s malleable. Things that were completed 20 years ago are depicted as though they were completed today.”
Upadhyay argued in the PIL that Article 14 guarantees equality before the law and equal protection under the law.
In Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, religious conversion by intimidating, threatening, and deceivingly attracting through gifts and monetary advantages is currently illegal, however it is not in neighbouring east Delhi.
Similarly, religious conversion through the use of black magic or superstition is illegal in Gurugram but not in neighbouring west Delhi. He said that it not only breaches Articles 14 but also runs counter to the Constitution’s fundamental ideals of secularism and rule of law.
The petition claimed that “foreign sponsored conversion mafias” target women and children, but that the Centre and Delhi governments had failed to take sufficient actions to manage religious conversion using “the carrot and the stick” in the spirit of Article 15(3), and asked the court to intervene.
“Many foreign-funded persons and NGOs are harassing, threatening, and deceivingly enticing EWS-BPL citizens to foreign religions through presents and monetary rewards,” he claimed.
Upadhyay requested that the Centre and the Delhi governments take suitable strict measures to outlaw religious conversion using “the carrot and the stick” and “by hook or crook” in order to safeguard and promote fraternity, human dignity, and the nation’s unity and integrity.