Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind files transfer petition before SC in cases challenging anti-conversion laws before various HCs

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Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind has filed a plea in Top Court against the laws promulgated for the prohibition of “love jihad” and other modes of unlawful religious conversion, stating that the laws enacted for the prohibition of unlawful religious conversion can be used to prosecute any person who is in a stronger position vis-a-vis the converted person.

A transfer petition has been moved by the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind before the Supreme Court for transferring pleas challenging the anti-conversion laws of various states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and others.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the petition today before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud submitting that the Registry had refused to number the transfer petition stating that the consent of the various petitioners before the High Courts was necessary.

Court was then told that in terms of Article 139A(1) of the Constitution, one could move a Transfer Petition for consideration by the Supreme Court even without being a party in all the petitions pending in different High Courts if the petitioner is a party to any of the cases before the High Courts.

The CJI then agreed to look into the matter when the batch of other cases was taken up during the course of the day. When the cases were taken up, Court decided to post the batch on the coming Friday along with the transfer petition.

Notably, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had recently moved the Supreme Court against the laws promulgated for the prohibition of “love jihad” and other modes of unlawful religious conversion.

The laws were made to keep a check on the mischief of religious conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any other fraudulent means.

The plea stated that the said laws force a person to disclose his faith and thereby invade into the privacy of a person. It submits that the compulsory disclosure of one’s religion in any form amounts to violation of the right to manifest his/her beliefs as the said right includes the right not to manifest one’s beliefs.

The petition was filed against the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition Of Unlawful Conversion Of Religion Act, 2021, the Uttarakhand Freedom Of Religion Act, 2018, the Himachal Pradesh Freedom Of Religion Act, 2019, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom Of Religion Act, 2021 and the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.

On the last hearing, CJI Chandrachud had questioned as to what the stage of the proceedings before these High Courts was.

He was thus informed by Senior Advocate, Indira Jaising, appearing on behalf of one of the petitioners, that the matters were at various stages. Jaising had also provided the court with the number of pleas pending before each high court.

"There are 7 High Courts before which cases are pending. Before us, there are three writ petitions challenging the laws from various states. Would you like to bring all those petitions here?", the CJI had then asked.

To this, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, had responded saying, "Your lordship can pass an order transferring them here, it has been done before.."

At this juncture, AG Venkataramani, who was directed to appear before Court to assist it in a related matter, had submitted that the matters should not be leap frogging from the High Courts, as they are already hearing them.

"We will hear the states, we are not transferring these matters as yet", the bench had then said.

Accordingly, the bench also comprising Justices Narasimha and Pardiwala had ordered that in view of the pendency of matters before various High Courts, a transfer petition shall be filed before it, and had asked for the matter to be listed after two weeks.