Barnabas Fund, 4 October 2022 (excerpts)
Ashwini Upadhyay has requested India’s Supreme Court to implement a nationwide anti-conversion law. The court on 23 September asked the federal government to submit a response to the petition by 14 November.
Upadhyay argued that “The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because there is not even one district which is free of religious conversion by ‘hook and crook’.”
11 Indian states have anti-conversion laws that criminalise seeking converts through force, fraud or allurement. These are often misused by extremists as or an excuse for attacking Christians and Muslims.
A similar petition from Upadhyay in the Delhi High Court was dismissed for lack of evidence earlier this year. On that occasion the two High Court judges asked, “Where are the statistics? How many conversions happened? Who is converted? You say mass conversion is happening, where is the number?”
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva also opined that “conversion is not prohibited in law”, and that the “right to choose and profess any religion” is “a constitutional right”.
India’s higher courts have a consistent recent record of upholding the rights of Christians. In March 2022 the Supreme Court rejected a request to monitor the activities of Indian evangelists, declaring to the petitioners, “You are actually disturbing the harmony with these kinds of petitions.”