Any person above 18 free to choose religion: Supreme Court

While refusing to entertain a plea for directions to curb forced religious conversions, the Supreme Court said there is no reason why a person above 18 can't be allowed to choose his religion.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said persons above 18 years of age are free to choose their religion as it refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Centre and states to control black magic and religious conversion.

A bench of Justices RF Nariman, B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy told senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayana, appearing for petitioner advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, what kind of writ petition is this under Article 32. “We will impose a heavy cost on you. You argue at your own risk.”

The bench said there is no reason why a person above 18 can’t be allowed to choose his religion.

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It further told Sankaranarayana, “there is a reason why the word propagate is there in the Constitution”.

Sankaranarayanan then sought liberty to withdraw the petition and permission to make representation to the government and the law commission.

The bench also refused to grant permission to a representation to the law commission and said, no we can’t grant you this permission.

It dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

The plea filed by Upadhyay has also sought directions to ascertain the feasibility of appointing a committee to enact a Conversion of Religion Act to check the abuse of religion.

Religious conversion by ‘carrot and stick’ and by ‘hook or crook’ not only offends Articles 14, 21, 25, but is also against the principles of secularism, which is an integral part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

Petitioner states with dismay 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 Article 51A, said the plea filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.

Alleging that the government has failed to take any concrete action against them, the plea said the Centre may enact a law with minimum imprisonment of 3 years that may extend up to 10 years and a hefty fine may be imposed.

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