Written by: Muskan Rathore (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
A PIL was filed recently in front of the Supreme Court by Advocate Ashwini Kumar. The PIL bears the name Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, where he placed the cases filed every week regarding Forceful religion conversion, through the practice of Black Magic, Superstition, Magic etc., in front of the Supreme Court. Heavy reliance was placed on the landmark case of Sarla Mudgal & ors. v. Union of India (1995) where directions were issued to the government regarding feasibility of legislating Anti Conversion Law.
These practices violate Article 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution. In his petition, the petitioner specified that Article 15(3) of the Constitution empowers the state to make certain provisions for the benefit of women & child. Article 25 of the Constitution states that a person is entitled to Freedom of conscience and Right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion, subject to public order, morality and health. The practice where religious conversion is performed by the use of miracles, black magic, superstition or hypocrisy is not protected under Article 25. Further, this Article is also subject to the Preamble as well as public order and morality enshrined under the Directive Principles of State Policy. However, the government has failed to take action against such practices.
The PIL further quoted Article 32 of the Constitution which professes wide powers to the Hon’ble Court and enacts a constitutional duty to falsify such new tools, which may be necessary for doing comprehensive justice and enforcing the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution
The practices are mainly performed upon people who are economically and socially backward, mainly belonging to SC and ST Community. Article 46 of the Constitution specifically talks about the protection of SC-ST community from social injustice and other forms of exploitation.
The petition stated various provisions of the International Law whereby the State is obligated to protect its citizens from pressures which affect their religious choices, thereby violating their exercise of Freedom of Religion. For instance, it relies upon Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which talks about the duty of the state to protect its individuals from coercion that affects Freedom to choose Religion. Article 1(2) of the Declaration of Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and Discriminationbased on Religion or Belief states that no individual shall be subject to such coercion which takes away the freedom to have a religious belief of his choice.
The petition pleads that the Law Commission of India should prepare a report on black magic, superstition and religious conversion within three months in spirit of the judgement of Sarla Mudgal case. The Supreme Court being the Custodian of the Constitution and Protector of Fundamental Rights should use its constitutional power to pass directions to stop conversion by the use of such methods. Moreover, in this regard, the petitioner cited the case of Mohammed Ishaq v. S Kazam Pasha & Anr and submits that it is the Supreme Court who is authorised to develop a Principle of liability to come up with a certain remedy to enforce fundamental rights effectively and to do complete justice to the aggrieved person.
The petition further pleads for the appointment of a committee to enact the Conversion of Religion Act and to check the misuse of Religion in the essence of directions given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Sarla Mudgal.