Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 3
Days after the Uttar Pradesh Governor promulgated an ordinance to check unlawful religious conversion for inter-faith marriages, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging its validity, contending it violated fundamental rights of citizens and went against public policy.
“This ordinance can become a potent tool in the hands of bad elements of the society to falsely implicate anyone and there are probabilities of falsely implicating persons who are not involved in any such acts and it will result in grave injustice,” petitioners Vishal Thakre, Abhay Singh Yadav and Pranvesh submitted.
They demanded that pending final adjudication of their petition, the operation of the ordinance should be stayed.
The Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadhesh, 2020 (Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020) – which was promulgated last month – prescribes imprisonment from one year to 5 years, or Rs 15,000 fine (in normal cases) minimum three years and maximum 10 years, and fine of Rs 25,000, if the girl is a minor or from the SC/ST community. It prescribes a jail term of minimum three years up to 10 years, and Rs 50,000 fine in cases involving mass religious conversion. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable.
The petitioners have also challenged the validity of the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.
According to the Ordinance, no person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.