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Centre’s Plea against forced conversion in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    3rd Dec, 2022

Context

The Ministry of Home Affairs has added that “the Right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert people to a particular religion”.

Right to Freedom of religion in India:

  • The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these.
  • In keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State
  • Constitutional Provisions:
  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs
  • Article 27: Freedom to pay taxes for the promotion of any particular religion
  • Article 28: Freedom to attend religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions.

What motivates people to convert?

  • Conversion based on Marriage
  • Conservation to uplift social status
  • Conversion for monetary benefits
  • Conversion to promote Illegal activities like Terrorism
  • Conversion for Jobs

Issues

  • Threats of forceful conversion.
  • Freedom of Religion laws’ is currently in force in 8 states:
  • Arunachal Pradesh 
  • Odisha
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Gujarat
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Jharkhand
  • Uttarakhand
  • The problem of Inducement or allurement.
  • Vulnerable Groups: Tribals, adolescents, women, unaware people especially in Rural areas

Supreme Court Judgements on Marriage and Conversion:

  • Hadiya Judgement 2017:
    • Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership, are within the central aspects of identity.
    • Neither the State nor the law can dictate a choice of partners or limit the free ability every person to decide on these matters.
    • The principle that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21.
  • The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefits do not hold water.
  • Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar case of Allahabad High Court 2020:The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty (Article 21).

S. Puttaswamy or ‘privacy’ Judgment 2017: Autonomy of the individual was the ability to make decisions in vital matters of concern to life.

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