Why not guidelines to prevent conversion: Madras HC

05:37 PM May 05, 2022 | PTI |

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday wondered why it should not direct the Tamil Nadu government to frame guidelines to arrest religious conversion in schools in the state.


A division bench of Justices R Mahadevan and S Ananthi made an oral observation to this effect when a PIL petition from city-based advocate B Jagannath came up for hearing, today.

The government, on its part, said it would not hesitate to take serious action against the perpetrators of such conversions but insisted the petition was not maintainable. The petition prayed for a direction to the government to frame effective guidelines and take all steps necessary, including corrective measures, to prohibit/prevent and ban proselytization and forced religious conversions in government and government-aided schools and other educational institutions, both primary and higher secondary level.

In this connection, the petitioner cited the recent incident in Thanjavur district, where Lavanya, a school student, ended her life allegedly over being pressured to convert to Christianity. The Court had ordered a CBI probe into the matter.

The petitioner also claimed that in a government school in the Kanyakumari district a student was allegedly forced to kneel for not acceding to the demand for conversion.


The petitioner wanted firm steps against conversion by some persons.

Framing necessary guidelines against forced conversion in government schools involving poor and innocent students will not come under the ambit, scope, and purview of power to legislate, as the alarming situations and circumstances highlighted the fact that the government machinery and apparatus have miserably failed to protect these students and prevent such incidents effectively and that there is no other option except for the judiciary to interfere into the issue. Forcible conversions are against secular ethos, the fundamental foundation of the Constitution, and violative of Articles 21, 25, 14, and 19. This could be put to an end only if the judiciary enters and issues guidelines, the petitioner said.

When the petition came up today, Justice Mahadevan asked what will be the harm in directing the government to frame guidelines to stop religious conversion in schools. There is a right to profess any religion, but not to convert forcibly, the judge added.

Raising a doubt over the maintainability of the petition, Additional Advocate General J Ravindran told the judges there were no more complaints of forcible conversions. Appropriate action had been taken in Lavanya and the Kanyakumari cases. The government would not hesitate to take serious action against the perpetrators of such conversions, he said, and added that the petition is not maintainable. The bench decided to hear the case in detail on Friday.


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