Supreme Court Refuses to Stay Anti-Conversion Law of UP and Uttarakhand

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined to stay the anti-conversion law ordinance promulgated by Uttar Pradesh government on interfaith marriages and religious conversion. The Supreme Court also declined to stay a similar law in force in Uttarakhand.

However, Hon’ble Justice SA Bobde, Hon’ble Justice AS Bopanna and Hon’ble Justice V Ramasubramanium agreed to examine the validity of the ordinance and issued notice to the Uttarakhand UP government.

The petitions were filed by a Delhi based lawyer and Citizens for Justice and Peace. They stated that the new anti-conversion law and the ordinance were violative of Article 25 and 21 as it empowers the state to suppress a person’s personal liberty and freedom.

The UP Prohibition Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance was cleared by the UP cabinet in November and was signed by UP Governor Anandiben Patel on 28th November.

The new ordinance lays down a detailed procedure that should be followed before converting from one religion to another. If the law is violated, then the person who converted, and the person made the person convert would be held liable.

As per the ordinance, no person shall attempt to convert or convert a person by force, undue influence, allurement, or misrepresentation nor would any person abet or help the person who indulges in conversion.

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Counsels for the petitioners submitted that the ordinance and Act are based on conspiracy theories and assume that all conversions are illegal. It was further contended that the new law intrudes freedom of religion and Right to privacy.

Initially, the Bench did not want to issue notice Solicitor general Tushar Mehta had stated that both the petitions were pending in High Courts. However, when one of the petitioners stated that the Supreme Court could take any matter pending in the High Court, the Bench relented.

However, the Bench refused to grant a stay order and directed the States to file their reply within four weeks.

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