Freedom of religion does not include right to convert: Gujarat in SC

The Gujarat government has told the Supreme Court that freedom of religion does not include the right to convert others, and requested the top court to vacate a High Court stay on the provision of a state law that mandates prior permission of the district magistrate for conversion through marriage.The Gujarat High Court had through its orders dated August 19 and August 26, 2021 had stayed the operation of section 5 of the state government’s Freedom of Religion Act of 2003. In its affidavit submitted in response to a PIL by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, the state government said it has filed an application seeking the HC stay be revoked so that the provisions to prohibit religious conversions in Gujarat by force, allurement, or fraudulent means be implemented. ”It is submitted that the right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion. The said right certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or other such means,” it said. The state government said the meaning and purport of the word ‘propagate’ in Article 25 of the Constitution was debated in great detail in the constituent assembly, and its inclusion was passed only after the clarification that the fundamental right under Article 25 would not include the right to convert