Himachal re-enacted anti conversion law struck down by the court : Citizens for Justice and Peace

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) challenging various anti conversion laws enacted by several states today contended before SC today that Himachal Pradesh has re-enacted the provisions of a 2006 anti conversion law by enacting new similar law which was already struck down by the Himachal Pradesh High court. Division bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala. Chief Justice of India  was today hearing a  batch of petition challenging  conversion religious laws legislated by various States. The SLP  was filed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) pleaded before apex court that  Himachal Pradesh had re enacted provisions directing prior intimation to deputy commissioner or magistrate before conversion. He also stated that before this such provisions also exists in another anti conversion law  brought  by the state in 2006 already  struck down by Himachal Pradesh High court in a case filed against the old law in Evangelical Fellowship of India v/s State of Himachal Pradesh verdict .Appearing for CJP, Sr. Advocate CU Singh, urged the bench to give  interim relief in matter. He informed the apex court that Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006) law had provisions of prior information to district magistrate before one month of conversion. The section of the legislation brought by the Himachal Pradesh government was struck down in the 2011 judgment of Justice Deepak Gupta Evangelical Fellowship of India v. State of Himachal Pradesh case as court declared the section ultra vire to constitution. Advocate Singh also mentioned before the bench that in counter affidavit filed by the state of Himachal Pradesh also accepted his argument. The counsel for the CJP informed the court that in 2019, they have re-enacted the law which was  challenged in the court. Seeking the stay impugned provision CJP counsel  argued before the apex court that the provisions which had already been struck down have to be stayed.  The CJP  challenging religious conversion laws of UK HP, UP, MP, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Karnataka, has specifically challenged provisions which mandate prior notice to the District Magistrate to change one’s faith.  It is highlighted that this provision could create difficulties for inter-faith couples and stated that the Acts in placing “unreasonable fetters” on persons wishing to convert from any faith, and in some cases even requiring persons wishing to convert to give a prior public declaration  of their intention to convert, are violative of the rights of individuals to privacy, which is an essential component of Article 21, and also constitute an unreasonable restraint on their right to practice the religion of their choosing, a right protected by Article 25 of the  Constitution. However, CJI DY Chandrchaud said that a hearing on merits was necessary to stay a statute. The bench adjourned the hearing directing the parties to complete the pleadings.  Now SC directed the state that  pleadings were to be completed in four weeks. 

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