Ashwini Upadhyay withdraws his PIL before Delhi High Court against forceful religious conversion

Ashwini Upadhyay withdraws his PIL before Delhi High Court against forceful religious conversion

A similar PIL filed by Upadhyay is pending before the Supreme Court in which the top court had directed the Central government to file an affidavit.
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay
Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay
Prashant Jha

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay on Monday withdrew the public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by him before the Delhi High Court against forced religious conversions [Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v Union of India & Ors].

Upadhyay appeared before a division bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Tushar Rao Gedela and sought withdrawal of the plea, which was allowed by the Court.

This came after Upadhyay moved a similar PIL before the Supreme Court which was heard by a bench of Justices MR Shah and Hima Kohli on November 14.

While hearing the plea, the apex court had remarked that forceful religious conversion is a very serious issue that threatens the security of the country and citizens’ freedom of conscience.

The Supreme Court also directed the Central government to file an affidavit detailing the steps taken to curb conversion by force.

Interestingly, Upadhyay’s plea before the Delhi High Court was heard on two occasions. However, the bench did not issue notice in the matter but questioned him on the source of his data and facts.

While hearing the PIL on June 3, 2022 Justice Sachdeva had remarked that the Court cannot examine a PIL alleging forced religious conversion when the plea is based on information derived from social media platforms and WhatsApp.

The Court had noted that there were no statistics or concrete data in Upadhyay’s plea to establish that large-scale forceful religious conversions were going on in the country.

The judges had also said that religious conversion is a Constitutional right; it is an individual’s prerogative to choose his/ her religion.

When the plea came up for hearing in July, the bench again said that parliament and State legislatures are free to make laws prohibiting forced conversions, but for the court to make any such recommendation, a strong case must be made out.

The judges said that they cannot rely on newspaper reports to make such recommendations and a petitioner seeking such a prayer will have to produce solid material to substantiate his claims.

Subsequently, when it came up for hearing on November 21, Monday, Upadhyay chose to withdraw the plea.

[Read Order]

Ashwini Kumar Upadhya v Union of India & Ors.pdf


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