The Supreme Court on Monday took an exception to certain crude statements against minority religions in the PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, claiming that “mass conversions” would take place across the country.
asked the Court Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, who appears before the petitioner, who seeks clues to prevent violent and deceitful religious conversions, to ensure that such remarks do not become known.
Senior Attorney Dushyant Daveappeared before certain Christian organizations trying to intervene in the case, the court told comprising Judges MR Shah and Justice S Ravindra Bhat that the petitioner has made extremely abhorrent accusations against other religions. Dave also pointed out that petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay herself is dealing with a hate speech case.
“These allegations that certain religions perpetuate rape and murder, these allegations should not be on the file of your lords. in the country, the Supreme Court leaves this unchallenged,” added Dave.
The bank took note of this and asked Datar to ensure that such allegations are removed from the record.
“Mr. Datar, please consider what these allegations are. These allegations are being made, you are considering and moderating this. You should not record all of them,” Judge Bhat told Arvind Datar.
“Whether it’s a rude comment or a bad comment, they will be deleted,” Datar assured.
“Please do that,” Judge Bhat said.
“You look into it. You look into it personally,” Judge Shah also concluded.
“Para 20 and beyond, they say. I’ll see,” Datar agrees.
The court adjourned the hearing to January 9 pending the affidavit from the central government. Counsel appearing before the Union government said India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was sitting on a different bench.
At the brief hearing today, Dave asked the court to allow the applications filed by organizations seeking intervention in the case. Judge Shah said it will be considered at the next hearing.
‘Really sad accusations’
At the beginning, Dave said, “This is the third petition filed by the petitioner. There are some very serious, irritating allegations against religions. Please allow us to be sued. Allegations are really sad!”.
“We will listen to you, Mr. Counsel,” Judge Shah said.
“It’s not a question of hearing. Allow us to get on the record. Give us the opportunity to respond. It can’t go unchallenged,” Dave insisted.
“It will not go unchallenged,” Judge Shah assured. Dave then asked why the intervention requests themselves are not possible today.
“Today we are simply adjourning the case,” Judge Shah said.
“What’s the harm in allowing our intervention requests today?” asked Dave.
“What’s the harm in thinking about it next time?” Judge Shah asked in rebuttal.
“Let me say one thing. These allegations that certain religions perpetuate rape and murder, these allegations should not be on your lords’ file. They send terrible signals to the country’s minority communities, that the Supreme Court will leave this unchallenged,” said Dave.
“We have not received any of those allegations today,” Judge Shah said.
“Your lords have taken notice. Your lords have refused to listen to us. We have not been made parties,” said Dave.
“We have never said that you will not be heard or invited. We are not rejecting your applications. We are saying today that we are not passing orders,” Judge Shah replied.
“The petitioner faces a Section 153A IPC charge,” noted Dave.
At this time, Datar, appearing virtually, intervened: “Last time, Judge Shah said that everyone will be heard. I don’t know what is the cause of concern”.
Judge Bhat then told Datar to ensure that no gross charges were brought to the table.
Senior lawyers CU Singh (for Kerala Yukthivadi Sanghom), Sanjay Hegde, Raju Ramachandran, Meenakshi Arora also appeared for several interveners opposing the PIL.
There was a change in the composition of the bank handling the case today. A sofa consisting of Judges MR Shah and S Ravindra Bhat heard the case, with the final judge replacing CT Ravikumar, who was unavailable today.
On the previous occasions, the court composed of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar had noted that forceful conversions were a serious problem. Commenting that charity cannot be used for conversion, the bank had asked the Center to collect information from states on steps taken against conversions by force or enticement.
The court had also said it would not accept the objections raised by certain interveners to the maintainability of the IPR. They pointed out that the Supreme Court had previously refused to hear a similar IPR filed by the same petitioner on the same issue. The interveners alleged that the petitioner indulged in forum shopping after unsuccessfully taking the case before other courts in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court.
A number of requests for intervention have been made to the Supreme Court claiming that the PIL was made based on Whatsapp messages and unattributed sources to create a false narrative of mass conversions. It has also been alleged that the PIL has made derogatory statements against minorities in order to further a political agenda.