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The plea, in the alternative, sought a direction to the Law Commission to prepare a Bill to control 'deceitful religious conversion' in the spirit of Articles 14, 21 and 25, within three months.
The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay which sought declaration that fraudulent religious conversion and religious conversion by intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits offend Articles 14, 21, 25 of the Constitution.
Upadhyay further sought directions to the Centre and states for taking stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversion and conversion by intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and also by using black magic, superstition, and miracles.
"Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and also by using black magic, superstition, miracles but Centre and States have not taken stringent steps to stop this menace," the plea added.
Today, a division bench of Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice.
The matter will now be taken up on November 14, 2022.
Upadhyay filed the instant plea also seeking investigation into the root cause of the death of 17-year-old Lavanya, who died of suicide and on January 19, 2022, in Thanjavur Tamil Nadu, allegedly on account of pressure & harassment to convert to Christianity.
He submitted that "Lavanya’s untimely demise is a wake-up call. It reminds people of evangelists’ imperialistic goals. Indeed, it reminds people of how an elaborate plan has been used to uproot Hinduism-Secularism through time. In fact, many more Lavanyas have been compelled to take such drastic measures as a result of such coercive-persuasive tactics."
Upadhyay alleged, "that a section of media and even the Tamil Nadu government seem to be determined to remove the conversion angle from the story."
"After the dying declaration, it was highlighted that the girl had lost her biological mother and it was her stepmother who had clashed with school authorities when the girl was asked to convert," the plea further added.
The plea further alleged that there was not even one district that is free of religious conversion by ‘hook and crook and the carrot and the stick’.
Notably, on January 31, 2022, Madras High Court transferred the investigation in the Lavanya death case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The death of the child is alleged to be a suicide over suspicion of a fraudulent and forceful religious conversion. The High Court found merit in the contention of the petitioner- the father of the late minor girl, that instead of finding out the truth, the police had been trying to bolster the counter narrative of the stepmother's harassment angle towards her.
Case Title: ASHWINI KUMAR UPADHYAY vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS
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