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SC allows filing of plea for transfer of petitions before HCs challenging anti-conversion laws

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The Supreme Court on Monday permitted the filing of a plea for the transfer to the top court, of the 21 petitions, currently before different High Courts, challenging the 9 laws to check religious conversion enacted by different States with nearly common provisions.

Allowing senior advocate Kapil Sibal to file an application for the transfer of matters before the Allahabad, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and the Himachal Pradesh High Courts to the top court, a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice P S Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala told Attorney General R Venkataramani that they will hear him on the question whether these petitions are transferred or not to the top court on the next date of hearing.

Opposing the plea for the transfer of 21 petitions to the Supreme Court, Attorney General Venkataramani said, “let the High Courts decide the petition challenging the respective anti-conversion State laws before them and there is always an appeal against their decision before the top court.”

The petitions before the 7 High Courts challenge the laws to check conversion enacted by Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

Sibal told the apex court that all the laws are copy and paste.

The court posted the matter for further consideration on January 30, 2023.

The hearing saw senior advocate, Dushyant Dave drawing the attention of the bench towards certain petitions that cast aspersions on the Christianity and the Muslims, telling the court that such petitions should not be entertained.

On Dave raising the issue, the Court was informed that these references in the petitions are being removed.

Senior advocate P. Wilson pointed to the court that one of the petitioners – an advocate and BJP leader – had in the past, twice filed petitions on the same issue and withdrew them, each time they came up for hearing and now once again he is before the top court raising the same issue of conversion.

Telling the petitioner – an advocate and BJP Leader that such repeated filing of the petitions on the same issue was not proper, the court said, “We will consider Wilson’s objection at some later date.”

Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta objected to the locus of the NGO Citizens for Justice & Peace challenging the Uttar Pradesh law relating to conversions.

Solicitor General, Mehta said that the Madhya Pradesh Government’s challenge to an interim order of the High Court in respect of its law enacted by it to check conversion which is listed for hearing on February 7, be taken up separately, the bench said that it will take it up on January 30, itself and decide.

The bench was also told to club with matters before it, another matter being heard by another bench of the top court. The matter relates to challenge to the Rajasthan High Court’s order, which, the top court was told, was in the nature of an enactment.

Giving the genesis of the matter, the court was told that the Rajasthan Assembly passed a law relating to conversion, which the State Governor did not sign, it went to the President of India who, too, did not act on it.


The Statesman

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