Anti-conversion law: Supreme Court refuses to pass order against Himachal Pradesh, adjourns matter to July 18
The Supreme Court today has adjourned a batch of pleas which were against the anti-conversion laws of several states which regulate religious conversions due to interfaith marriages and matters related to deceitful religious conversions to July 18.
The Court has disgareed to pass an order staying the anti-conversion law of Himachal Pradesh at this stage.
A Bench consisting Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice PS Narasimha have given consented that if a state is a respondent in more than one plea, it is allowed to file one common counter affidavit and adopt it in the rest of the cases, the same shall also apply on the transfer petitions also.
The Court has also extended the time to file counter affidavits by three weeks and for the rejoinder two weeks thereafter would be permitted.
Senior Advocate CU Singh who apeared on behalf of the petitioner submitted that Himachal Pradesh has re-enacted the same provision that was earlier struck down by the Himachal Pradesh High Court. He prayed for a stay of that provision.
The Apex Court said it is not right to stay a statute like that as it needs more homework and discussion. Singh then sought an early hearing of the matter.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the state was directed to file replies , however the Centre has not received any replies from states.
The Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave told the court that forty people who were running a hospital in Uttar Pradesh are on a run and that the issue will have to be decided by the Court.
The Supreme Court , on February 6,had ruled out the possibility of a separate hearing on the PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, in his personal capacity, against fraudulent religious conversions.
Upadhyay had submitted that he was neither supporting the state laws nor was he opposing them as his petition purely dealt with separate issue of fraudulent religious conversions.
During an earlier hearing on January 30, Attorney General R. Venkataramani had stated that he has ‘serious objections’ to the Supreme Court hearing the pleas challenging state legislations, bypassing the High Courts.
Senior Advocate CU Singh who represented Citizens for Justice and Peace challenging the state laws sought that notice be issued and stay be granted, stating that new laws are being made in states, each more virulent than the previous one.
The lawyer also objected to the submission by the Centre for filing an affidavit challenging the locus standi of a petitioner, stating that the Centre has not filed its pleadings in cases where notice has been issued and is seeking to file pleadings where notice has not been issued.
The Apex Court has been hearing petition filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace, and other connected petitions, which challenge the validity of the enactments in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka.
The Top Court is also hearing two Special Leave Petitions which have been filed respectively by the States of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh challenging the interim orders which were passed by the High Courts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
These interim orders had granted a stay on certain provisions of the State enactments, namely, the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003 and the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2021.
Supreme Court had received a Writ Petition from a Christian man from the Roman Catholic Denomination who had approached the Supreme Court seeking action against deceitful religious conversions done by other Christian denominations.
in the past when a bench of Justice M R Shah and Justice C T Ravikumar were hearing the batch of cases against deceitful religious conversions, the Court had asked the Attorney General to assist the Court in the matter.