The Supreme Court on Friday had stated that persons above 18 years of age are free to choose their religion. The statement was made when the SC had refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the union and state governments to control black magic and religious conversion. The bench said there is no reason why a person above 18 can't be allowed to choose his religion.
A bench of Justices RF Nariman, B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy told senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayana, appearing for petitioner advocate Ashwini Upadhyay “What kind of writ petition is this under Article 32. We will impose a heavy cost on you. You argue on your own risk.” It further stated "there is a reason why the word propagates is there in the Constitution".
Sankaranarayanan then sought liberty to withdraw the petition and permission to make representation to the government and the law commission but the bench also refused to grant permission to a representation to the law commission and dismissed the petition as withdrawn.
The plea filed by Upadhyay has also sought directions to ascertain the viability of appointing a committee to enact a Conversion of Religion Act to check the abuse of religion. Religious conversion by 'hook or crook' not only offends Articles 14, 21, 25, but is also against the principles of secularism, which is an integral part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
The plea said that the Centre and States have failed to control the menace of black magic, superstition and deceitful religious conversion, though it is their duty under Article 51A and alleging that the government has failed to take any concrete action against them, the plea also said the Centre may enact a law with minimum imprisonment of 3 years that may extend up to 10 years and a hefty fine may be imposed.