Right To Freedom Of Religion Cannot Be..: Allahabad High Court 

Right To Freedom Of Religion Cannot Be..: Allahabad High Court 
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 Denying bail to a person accused of carrying out illegal conversion, the Allahabad High Court has observed that the Constitution grants citizens the right to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion but it cannot be extended to construe a collective right to proselytise” or convert other people to one’s religion.

The order was passed by Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal while rejecting the bail plea of Shriniwas Rav Nayak of Maharajganj who was booked under sections 3 and 5 (1) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.

Passing the order, the court opined that the individual right to freedom of conscience, as guaranteed by the Constitution, ensures that every person has the liberty to choose, practice, and express their religious beliefs.

However, the individual right to freedom of conscience and religion cannot be extended to construe a collective right to proselytize, which means attempting to convert others to one’s religion, according to the court.

“The right to religious freedom belongs equally to the person converting and the individual sought to be converted,” the court added.

It is alleged that, on February 15, 2024, the informant in the case was invited to the house of Vishwanath where many villagers mostly from the Scheduled Castes community had gathered. Vishwanath’s brother Brijlal, the applicant Shriniwas, and Ravindra were also present there.

They allegedly urged the informant to leave Hinduism and convert to Christianity, promising relief from pain and an improved life. While some villagers accepted Christianity and began praying, the informant escaped and reported the incident to the police.

The counsel for the Shriniwas pleaded that he had no connection with the alleged conversion and that he was a domestic help of one of the co-accused, a resident of Andhra Pradesh, and had been falsely implicated in the case.

It was also contended that no person who had converted to Christianity came forward to lodge a complaint.

On the other hand, the state counsel submitted that a case under the anti-conversion Act of 2021 was made out against the applicant.

He stated that the applicant came to Maharajganj where the conversion was taking place and was actively participating in the conversion from one religion to another which is against the law.

The court in its decision on Tuesday noted that Section 3 of the 2021 Act clearly prohibits conversion from one religion to another based on misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, and allurement.

In view of this, taking into account the allegations made against the accused, the court noted that the informant was persuaded to convert to another religion and this was prima facie sufficient to decline bail to the applicant as it established the fact that a conversion programme was going on and many villagers belonging to the Scheduled Castes community were being converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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