The Unconstitutional ‘love jihad’

Love jihad, a very suspicious term surfing the mainstream media. The term “love jihad” is originated from the right-wing ideology. Despite no factual or statistical data backing this term, many states are the road map to promulgate ordinances or laws. The term means that the Muslim men luring Hindu women to conversion for marriage purpose. The right-wing is only the interest stakeholder in this love jihad. They believe it as conspiracy plotted to the religious conversion of Hindu women. The right-wing majority states are on to tackle this love jihad and a state Uttar Pradesh has already promulgated Unlawful Religious Conversion (prohibition) ordinance 2020 duly assented by the governor.

Some provisions in the ordinance are as follows

  • It prohibits religious conversion in any way such as forceful, coercive, fraudulent, influence etc.
  • Such conversions deem to be non-bailable, cognizance offences and can be awarded penalty up to 15,000 rs with 5 years of imprisonment.
  • Religious conversion on minor girls, SC and ST’s would be penable upto 3 years of rigorous imprisonment and penalty up to 25,000 rs.
  • If the purpose of conversion is the marriage then such marriage deemed to be null and void.
  • Prior notice of at least 2 months should be submitted to the district magistrate for conversion else such persons face a penalty.

And few more states Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh soon may promulgate any ordinance or bills in attributing love jihad. The provisions of the ordinance are against the very basic rights of individual guaranteed by the constitution of India. A woman has the complete rights to choose her own way of life, whom to marry, to what religion she opts, the place where she lives and the occupation she prefers. The love jihad ordinance infringes the fundamental rights of a woman. Numerous judgments were backing the women’s choice to whom she should marry or what religion she would adore.

In lata Singh vs the State of U.P, a 2 judge bench the Supreme Court under article 32 held that ” this is a free and democratic country and once the person becomes major he or she can marry whoever she or he likes. If neither parents on any side can approve the marriage then the maximum they can do is to cut off the social relations but they can not threaten them keeping endanger their lives or any such acts”. The same judgement was quoted in the shaft Jahan vs Ashokan K.M that ” no fetters could be placed on her choice on where to live or about the person with whom she could stay”.

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In 2018, a petition by Shakti Vahini, a 3 judge bench compromising CJI Dipak Mishra, justice D.Y Chandrachud and justice A.M Khanwilkar held that the ” the consent of family, community or clan is not necessary when the two individuals enter into wedlock”. In 2013, the 242nd law commission recommended the drafting of a bill for the “Prohibition of Interference with the matrimonial alliance”. However, the draft was unable to get a place in parliament.

The investigations relating love jihad in Kerala, Karnataka and most recently in Kanpur concluded there is nothing like love jihad or any such organization. A backdrop to this ordinance has already been in the light with a series of orders passed by Allahabad high court. In more than 100 cases the high court directed the Senior Superintendent police to examine all such cases and ensure to protect them if their life and liberty are threatened. As believed by the right-wing, a surge in the Muslim population is not significantly higher. Compared to the 2001 and 2011 census the Muslim population has only increased less the 1%(13.4% in 2001 to 14.2% in 2011).

Despite, supreme court judgements and no factual data, the ordinance itself is just a flaw. It is a severe violation of very fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of India. The encroachment on women’s rights will have severe consequences on both socio-political and economically. The states hypothetical perspective on love jihad is an infringement of the right to freedom and is unconstitutional.

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