Updated: April 10, 2021 4:31:37 am
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Centre and states to take steps to control black magic, superstition and religious conversion through threats, intimidation or deception observing there is “no reason why a person above 18 can’t be allowed to choose his religion”.
Justice R F Nariman, heading a three-judge bench, expressed strong displeasure over the plea, saying “there is a reason why the word propagate is there in the Constitution of India”.
Petitioner Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay withdrew the petition after the court warned that it will impose costs.
The plea contended that “religious conversion by ‘carrot-and-stick’ or ‘by-hook-or-crook’ not only offends Articles 14 (right to equality), 21(right to life) and 25 (right to religious freedom), but (is) also against the principles of secularism, which is integral part of basic structure of Constitution.”
Upadhyay said he was dismayed that the Centre and states have failed to control “the menace of black magic, superstition and deceitful religious conversion, though it is their duty under the Constitution to do so”.
Pointing out that the right to practise, propogate and profess religion are subject to public order, morality and health, the plea said, “Thus it’s crystal clear that religious conversion by using miracles, superstition, black magic and hypocrisy is not protected under Article 25.”
Further, the petition said the Centre and states are obligated under Article 46 to protect the SC/ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation, “but religious conversion by intimidation, threats or deception is an injustice and exploitation”.
The plea also referred to the 1977 case Rev. Stainislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh and Others, in which the Supreme Court Constitution bench ruled that the “word ‘propogate’ has been used in the Article (25) as meaning to transmit or spread from person to person or from place to place. The Article does not grant right to convert other person to one’s own religion but to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets”.
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