The Supreme Court on Friday declined to stay an anti-conversion law passed by Himachal Pradesh and also extended the time to three weeks for the states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, among others, to file their response in connection with a batch of petitions challenging the validity of anti- conversion laws passed by various state governments.
Senior advocate C.U. Singh, representing a petitioner, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that Himachal Pradesh has re-enacted the same provision that was earlier struck down by the Himachal Pradesh High Court and sought stay on the law. The bench said that it is a matter of merit and “we can’t just stay a statute like that”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that the court had last time directed the state governments to file a reply, but none of them so far filed their response in the matter.
Singh contended that Rajasthan has filed a reply and pointed out there are nine separate petitions in the matter. The bench said each state can file one common response for other petitions and extended the time for filing counter affidavits by three weeks.
During the hearing, Singh cited processions being taken in Maharashtra against love jihad etc to pressurise the people. Mehta submitted that this is not correct.
After hearing submissions, the bench allowed the petitioners to file a rejoinder two weeks after.
At the end of the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing a petitioner, submitted before the bench that there are questions of law involved in the matter and also asked the court to look into the case of a missionary hospital, which has been “rendered useless due to charges to unlawful conversion”.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, along with others have challenged validity of laws passed by Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and others to check religious conversions specially for marriage.