CJI DY CHANDRACHUD CHANGE OF BENCH IN PLEA RELATED TO RELIGIOUS CONVERSATIONS; LED BENCH TO HEAR ON MONDAY

The Supreme Court in the case In Re: The issue of Religious Conversion observed wherein a change of bench has taken place in the PIL filed, it is alleged that mass religious conversions were taking place through forceful and fraudulent means in India. The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala will hear the matter on January 16. The bench headed by Justice MR Shah on January 9 observed and as had changed the causetitle of the PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyaya “In Re : The Issue of Religious Conversion”. Thus, the bench had also sought the assistance of Attorney General for India R Venkataraman, while observing that the matter was “very serious”. The bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud will consider the matter along with a batch of pleas filed challenging the anti-conversion laws enacted by several States. However, the Several Christian and Muslim organisations have filed intervention applications in the matter taking exception to certain statements made by the petitioner against minorities. The bench led by Justice S Ravindra Bhat who was sharing the bench with Justice MR Shah in an hearing held on 12.12.2022 asked the counsel, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appearing for the petitioner to withdraw the scurrilous allegations against other religions. Earlier, the bench comprising of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar observed that the forceful conversions were a serious issue. Further, commenting that the charity cannot be used for conversion. Thus, the bench asked the Centre for collecting information from States regarding the steps taken against conversions through force or allurement. It has also been stated by the bench that that it will not accept the objections raised against the maintainability of the PIL by certain intervenors, who pointed out that earlier it has been refused by the Supreme Court to entertain a similar PIL filed by the same petitioner on the same issue. Therefore, it is alleged by the intervenors that the petitioner was indulging in forum-shopping after unsuccessfully pursuing the matter before other benches in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court. However, the number of intervention applications have been filed in the Supreme Court, wherein it is alleged that the PIL has been filed on the basis of Whatsapp forwards and unattributed sources which are creating a false narrative of mass conversions. Before the court, it has also been alleged that the PIL has made derogatory statements against minorities to further a political agenda.

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