Supreme Court issues notice over “love jihad” laws

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Wednesday, the supreme court of India has issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Government over “love Jihad” laws. Notice was issued after the hearing of two petitions, the petitions challenge the laws which have provisions to prohibit religious conversion for the purpose of marriage. In the hearing of two petitions, one by advocates Vishal Thakre and Abhay Singh Yadav and law researcher Pranvesh and another by an NGO named Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), the bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said it will have to hear the other side as well. the validity of anti-conversion laws. The petitions were filed against two laws. one is against “The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition Of Unlawful Conversion Of Religion Ordinance, 2020” and other is “The Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018”. The court has declined to grant any immediate stay on the laws passed by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand government and agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the laws.

The term “love jihad” refers to the conspiracy theory that Muslim men convince Hindu women into marrying them and the sole purpose of marriage is converting their brides to Islam. This is the idea which is mainly pushed by right-wing groups’ ideology over time. Now the laws proposed by the UP government penalize the conversion of religion in marriage. Not only UP but other states are also bringing such laws. On one hand, some groups support the laws while others say that it is unconstitutional and hampers the right to privacy.

The proposed law by the UP government, which is termed as “Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adyadesh 2020” defines punishment and fine under three different sections. Those found guilty of conversion done in contravention of the law would face jail of 1 year and a minimum fine of Rs 15,000. For finding guilty to convert minors or women belonging to SC/ST group the fine of Rs 25,000 and jail term for 3-10 years is prescribed. For being guilty of the conversion at the mass level the fine is up to Rs 50,000 and a jail term between three to ten years is proposed. The law proposed by the UP government was criticised by former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur on Tuesday. He suggested that it has many defects.

The petitions were filed because on the basis of this law some incidents of mob lynching and captivating people from their marriage has been reported in the last few days. In the petitions lawyers put forward some strong points and submissions, they pointed out that reports of people being taken away from wedding venues and being targeted by mobs are coming from the many parts of the state. Following the submissions of lawyers, the bench agreed to issue notice.