June 24, 2021 6:10:03 am
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed as “withdrawn” a batch of petitions challenging the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020. While the court junked the petitions saying they were filed challenging the constitutional validity of the Ordinance and not the Act, it said the petitioners were at liberty to file a fresh batch of pleas challenging the Act.
The batch of petitions was heard by a Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Siddhartha Varma Wednesday. “The court has dismissed the pleas as withdrawn, having been infructuous as the Act has come into force, while the petitions that have been dismissed were challenging the Ordinance,” said Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal, who appeared on behalf of the government.
He said one of the petitions, which was filed by Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives, challenging the Act and not the Ordinance, was entertained by the court and a notice was issued to the state government. “A notice was issued to the state, asking it to file a reply to the petition within four weeks. The matter has been listed for the week which commences on August 2,” Goyal said.
The UP cabinet had cleared the ordinance on November 24 last year and it was approved and signed by Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28. In March this year, the Ordinance became an Act after it was passed by the Assembly. Under the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate.
The Act says that no person shall convert, either directly or indirectly from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.
Shashwat Anand, who was among the lawyers to have filed the batch of pleas, said he will file a fresh petition soon. Anand had filed his plea on behalf of activist and lawyer Saurav Kumar, challenging the constitutional validity of the Ordinance.
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