SC to consider plea against HC's rules on conversion

Last Updated 29 March 2019, 06:50 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea against a Rajasthan High Court's judgement that has put strict guidelines for religious conversion, including verification by district authorities if the person was doing it out of faith or for marriage only.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and R Subhash Reddy asked senior advocate Raju Ramachandran to hand over the copy of the petition to the Rajasthan government's counsel.

The court posted the petition for hearing next week as the counsel said the high court passed general guidelines against conversion while hearing a habeas corpus petition in case of a girl voluntarily going away with a man from the other religion and marrying him.

In its judgement, the division bench of the high court has ordered any person desirous to change the religion has to inform the district collector, who would put a public notice for a week about it.

Only after a week's time, anyone converting for purpose of marriage can do so. The guidelines were issued in order to check "forceful conversion" for marriage, the high court had said in its judgement passed on December 15, 2017.

The special leave petition was filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle against the verdict on behalf of 'Mr X' who wanted to remain anonymous.

The petitioner contended that the judgement "directly infringed upon the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution, including the right to live with dignity enunciated by a nine-judge bench in the K S Puttaswamy judgement (right to privacy)".

"The HC is in error by unlawfully vesting an appointed authority the untrammelled power to ascertain the intention (mental state) of a person intending to convert," the petitioner claimed.

The high court by making applicable the guidelines on all and "arbitrarily" making such persons desirous to convert to inform the authorities and prove their bonafide acted in complete violation of the Constitution and in contrary to laws of evidence and procedure, it added.

(Published 29 March 2019, 06:50 IST)

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