A PIL has been filed in the Apex Court seeking direction to take steps to control religious conversion by “intimidating, threatening or deceivingly luring unwitting individuals with gifts or monetary benefits or by using miracles, superstition, & black magic”.
The Public Interest Litigation, filed by Lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, sought direction to the Centre to ascertain the feasibility of appointing a committee to enact a conversion of religion act to check the abuse of religion in the spirit of the direction in a judgement of the Supreme Court.
In the plea, he has further asked to direct the Law Commission of India to prepare a report on black magic, superstition and religious conversion within three months in spirit of the judgment in the Sarla Mudgal case of the Top Court.
On May 10, 1995, the Supreme Court in the Sarla Mudgal case, had directed to find out the feasibility of enacting the anti-conversion law but the Centre did nothing to stop deceitful religious conversions.
It further said that alternatively, being the custodian of the Constitution & protector of fundamental rights, the court may use its plenary constitutional power to pass direction to stop conversion by “carrot & the stick”, plea stated.
In his plea, Upadhyay alleged that India has been a victim of religious conversions for many centuries & therefore, it is the duty of the State to take appropriate steps to stop religious conversion of socially economically downtrodden men, women & children, particularly of the SC-STs community, being done by intimidating, threatening & various other methods.
“There is not even one district in the country which is free of black magic, superstition and religious conversion by the carrot & the stick,” the plea said, adding that incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening etc. but Centre has not taken appropriate steps to stop these menaces of society.
The plea stated that “It is necessary to state with dismay that the government has done little or nothing to stop religious conversions by force & luring gifts & money etc. Evidence of deceitful religious conversion is available in social media, particularly on YouTube & Facebook. Foreign-funded individuals & NGOs are given a road map & monthly target of religious conversion. It is necessary to state that as per the 2011 census, Hindus are 79 per cent & down from 86 per cent in 2001, (most importantly 79 per cent including millions converted continue to record them as Hindus to get a reservation in jobs & other benefits)”.
The petition further stated that many individuals & organisations have started conversions of SC-STs in rural areas & the situation is very alarming. “The mass religious conversion of the socially economically downtrodden men, women & children, and, in particular of the SC & ST community, is on the rise in the last 20 years,” the petition stated.
The organisations operate very smoothly targeting socially economically downtrodden men, women & children, & in particular of the SC & ST community, with fraudulent tricks such as mass prayers of miracle healing & marketing campaigns of black magic, the plea said.
The Centre must enact Anti Conversion Law & get it implemented throughout India, said the plea.
“The law should have in-depth scrutiny on foreign funds as many individuals operate under the veil of NGOs.
The law should also include provisions to restrict foreign NGOs from entering India during national calamities. Initially, the NGOs extend help but gradually, they start converting affected poor people, finding an opportunity as they are vulnerable & need help during a calamity,” the plea further said.