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Monday, June 5, 2023

SC rejects petition for stay on UP’s anti-conversion law

The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a petition seeking stay on anti-conversion laws passed by Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to stop interfaith marriages involving coercive or fraud conversion, and other illegal mass conversions. It has asked the petitioner NGO Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to approach the concerned high courts.

As per a Hindustan Times report

“This was the third petition filed in the top court challenging the contentious laws. On January 6, the top court issued notice on two separate petitions challenging the validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

On Wednesday, NGO Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) sought to expand the ambit of consideration of the court to a third law in Himachal Pradesh, known as the HP Freedom of Religion Act, 2019.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, refused to issue notice on the PUCL plea, but gave the NGO the liberty to approach high courts”

The anti-conversion law introduced in UP has come as a huge relief for Hindu families whose minor or otherwise emotionally vulnerable daughters are groomed or otherwise trapped into conversion and marriage by Muslim youth often using fake Hindu identities at the outset. The new law has also proved effective in countering group conversions by Christian missionaries using fake miracle healing, job allurement or other illegal means.

Seeing the success of the UP law, Madhya Pradesh too has introduced a similar law.

The NGO PUCL boasts of itself as ‘the guardian of the nation’s conscience.’ As per its website, its national Vice-President is Binayak Sen. In 2010, Sen was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Chhattisgarh for sedition and helping Naxalites to set up a network to fight the State. The Chhattisgarh High Court upheld the conviction, but Supreme Court granted bail to him in 2011. Adv. Sudha Bhardwaj is PUCL’s National Secretary. She is currently in jail with a host of other Naxal supporters under the UAPA law for her links to banned Maoist groups and role in Bhima Koregaon violence.

A full analysis of Binayak Sen’s and PUCL’s background can be read here.

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