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CJI-led bench takes over plea against religious conversions, earlier Justice Shah-led bench asked Centre to collect information on forced conversions

A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud and comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala took over from Justice Shah-led bench over Ashwini Upadhyay's plea against religious conversions. The bench would consider the matter along with a batch of petitions filed challenging the anti-conversion laws enacted by several States.

A sudden change in bench took place last week after Chief Justice of India Chandrachud-led bench took over Ashwini Upadhyay’s plea against religious conversions from a bench headed by Justice Shah.

Upadhyay had filed a petition against rampant conversions across the country, stating that conversions took place through forceful and fraudulent means.

The petition which was scheduled to be heard next in February was heard on January 16, Monday, before a bench of CJI Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala. The bench would consider the matter along with a batch of petitions filed challenging the anti-conversion laws enacted by several States.

The matter was until last week heard by a bench headed by Justice Shah, who on January 9 changed the cause title of the PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay(WP(c) No.63/2022) as “In Re: The Issue of Religious Conversion”. Observing that the matter was “very serious”, the bench had also sought the assistance of Attorney General for India R Venkataramani.

The former bench headed by Justice Shah had deemed religious conversions a “serious issue”

Stating that forceful conversions were a serious issue, the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar observed that charity cannot be used for conversion and asked the Centre to collect information from States regarding the steps taken against conversions through force or allurement. The court had also accused the Tamil Nadu government of giving a “political colour’ to a serious issue of religious conversions.

“Do not try to bring political colour. Prima facie today the state government wants to bring political colour. We are concerned with the people… You may have so many reasons to be agitated like this but do it outside. We are considering a particular issue and not concerned with the ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’ state. If it (forcible or deceitful religious conversions) is happening in your state, it is bad. If it is not happening, then good. We are not targeting only one state,” Justice Shah had retorted after Wilson, Tamil Nadu government counsel, called Upadhyay’s petition against religious conversions “politically motivated”.

Justice Shah-led bench had refused to accept objections over the maintainability of the PIL

Many Christian and Muslim organisations have filed intervention applications in the matter taking exception to certain statements made by the petitioner against minorities and challenging the maintainability of Upadhyay’s plea against religious conversions.

The bench also said that it would not accept the objections raised over the maintainability of the PIL by certain intervenors, who pointed out that the Supreme Court had earlier refused to entertain a similar PIL filed by the same petitioner on the same issue. The intervenors claimed that the petitioner was indulging in forum shopping after failing to pursue the matter before other benches in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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