Credentials of organisation of which Teesta Setalvad is an office bearer in "serious doubt": MHA opposes plea by CJP against illegal conversion laws in SC

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), through its Joint Secretary, has filed a preliminary affidavit in the Supreme Court of India contesting the petition filed by Teesta Setalvad's Centre for Justice & Peace (CJP) against illegal conversion laws. 

The MHA informed the Supreme Court the background and credentials of the petitioner organisation are a relevant consideration before it seeks to decide whether or not to invoke its jurisdiction at its behest, considering that the credentials of CJP are in "serious doubt".

"I state and submit that the petitioner herein purports to act in public interest in which it selectively takes up public causes for the objects and intents other than public interest", the affidavit reads.

The MHA has told Supreme Court that the organisation is guilty of collecting huge funds and exploits the agonies of riot affected people for which, criminal proceedings are going on against its office bearer, Teesta Setalvad.

"Under the guise of serving public interest, the petitioner deliberately undertakes and consciously and surreptitiously espouses, divisive politics in an attempt to divide the society on religious and communal lines," the MHA says, while adding that such activities and endeavours and found in many other states and that such activity is currently ongoing in the state of Assam.

The present plea filed by CJP against illegal conversion laws is currently pending adjudication before Supreme Court. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has called the laws against illegal conversion "anti-secular" which have been introduced in four BJP-led government ruled states - Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. 

While the laws purportedly seek to protect girls from forced conversions in case of inter-faith marriages, it is the CJP's position that the laws are against the fundamental right of citizens as they do not allow a person to choose a life partner of their own volition.

Case Title: Citizens for Justice and Peace Vs State of Chhatisgarh & Ors.