On religious conversion, Supreme Court must set the bar high, remain mindful of danger of spectre-mongering on a fraught issue

Source: The post is based on an article “On religious conversion, Supreme Court must set the bar high, remain mindful of danger of spectre-mongering on a fraught issue” published in The Indian Express on 16th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2- Governance

Relevance: concerns associated with forceful religious conversions

News: The Supreme Court has said that forced religious conversions are very dangerous and may affect the security of the nation as well as the freedom of religion and conscience of the citizens.

It has directed the centre to step in and inform measures that can be taken by the Union government to stop such conversions.

How are religious conversions being carried out?

Missionary activities in tribal areas and inter-religious marriages are the two major factors of the conversions.

In the case of inter-religious marriages, the law now requires that the bride and groom should seek permission before marriage from the district magistrate.

If the case is of forceful conversion, the burden lies on the groom and his family and they have to disprove the charges to the authorities.

What are the present laws regarding religious conversions?

Article 25 of the Constitution says “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.

Even though, almost 10 states have brought anti-conversion laws. They claim that legal safeguards including IPC provisions have failed to stop religious conversions through coercion, intimidation, etc.

However, using these means is not a solution and action against forceful conversion should be taken in such a way that it does not interfere with fundamental freedoms.

What are the concerns associated with religious conversions?

Religious conversions, especially forceful, have political implications and they are used as weapons by political parties in India which ultimately harms the society. Therefore, a judicial and wise intervention is required to address the issue.

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