TN government told the Supreme Court that the Constitution of India gives people a right to “spread their religion peacefully” and “change their beliefs”. (Sanjay Sharma)
Maintaining that “anti-conversion laws are prone to misuse against minorities”, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led government submitted in the top court that citizens of the country should be allowed freely to choose their religion and it would not be appropriate for the government to put spokes to their personal belief and privacy.
The Tamil Nadu government, in an affidavit filed recently, remained emphatic that no incident of forceful conversion has been reported in the southern state in last many years, as it opposed the prayers made by PIL petitioner-advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to order a CBI probe into the alleged cases of forcible conversions and direct the law commission of India to prepare a draft on anti-conversion law.
“The Anti-conversion laws are prone to misuse against minorities and there is no data on convictions under the various anti-conversion laws of the states. It is most respectfully submitted that the citizens are at liberty to choose the religion they want to follow,” stated the affidavit, criticising Upadhyay for trying to target Christian missionaries by filing what the state called a “religiously motivated petition”.
“Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees every citizen the right to propagate his religion. Therefore, the acts of missionaries spreading Christianity by itself cannot be seen as something against law. But if their act of spreading their religion is against public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of Part III of the Constitution (relating to fundamental rights), it has to be viewed seriously. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, there has been no incidents of forceful conversion reported in the past many years,” it added.
The state accepted the legal proposition that the Constitution does not give a fundamental right to any person to turn another man into one’s own religion. “But it gives a right to any person to propagate his religion. Likewise, the Constitution does not prevent any person from getting converted to the religion of his choice. The citizens of the country should be allowed freely to choose their religion and it would not be appropriate for the Government to put spokes to their personal belief and privacy,” read the affidavit.
Citing Articles 21 and 25 of the Constitution, the Tamil Nadu government said that “every citizen has the opportunity to practice and spread his religion peacefully” and the right to have faith in a particular religion is an inviolable right that the state is obligated to protect.
“But without intimidation, threatening, deception, luring through gifts and without using any superstitious methods, any person has the right to propagate and preach his belief system to other persons. The people also have a choice to change their beliefs,” stated the affidavit, pointing out the task of the state is to maintain a balance between the right to propagate religion and public order.
About the anti-conversion laws, the MK Stalin-led government said that in 2002, the state had also passed the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act but it was repealed in 2006 “due to popular opposition”. A law against religious conversion through force or allurement was enacted in 2002 by the then AIADMK government headed by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa and it was later repealed following stiff opposition.
In the affidavit, the state has also denied Upadhyay’s claims regarding suicide of minor girl Lavanya in Tamil Nadu after she was allegedly forced to convert by the Christian institution where she was studying.
“The Central Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the cause of death of Lavanya and as per the investigation done by the state police, there is no concrete proof or clinching evidence to say that she committed suicide because of compulsion to convert to Christianity,” it said.
The state sought dismissal of Upadhyay’s PIL, arguing the petitioner belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and he has attempted to convert the court proceeding into a political fight.
source : https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tamil-nadu-govt-tells-supreme-court-no-illegality-in-spreading-christianity-unless-unlawful-means-employed-opposes-cbi-probe-into-alleged-forced-conversions-religiousfreedom-anticonversionlaw-supremecourt-101682880003478.html