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Plea In Allahabad HC Challenges Constitutional Validity Of UP Govt’s Law On Religious Conversion In The Name Of ‘Love Jihad’

A petition has been filed before the Allahabad High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the UP Government’s controversial law against religious conversions in the name of ‘love jihad’, Live Law reported.

The PIL prays that the laws made in the name of “love jihad” be declared null and void because “they disturb the basic structure of the Constitution”.

Advocate Saurabh Kumar has moved the High Court stating that the law is both morally and constitutionally incompatible.

On October 31, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, had made a statement that his government will bring a law against ‘love-jihad’- a hate campaign and false propaganda run by anti-Islamic forces claiming that Muslim men lure non-Muslim girls, trick them into marriage and force them to accept Islam. It is used to discredit marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women as part of a conspiracy to cause the conversion of Hindu women.

The law was brought into force on November 27, 2020.

The law prohibits one person from converting the religion of another person by marriage, enables any person related to the converted person by blood or marriage or adoption to lodge an FIR against the conversion and empowers courts to declare any marriage as void if it is done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or if an unlawful conversion is done for the sole purpose of marriage.

The plea stated that these provisions give the State “policing powers over a citizen’s choice of life-partner or religion” and thus, militate against the fundamental rights to individual autonomy, privacy, human dignity and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The ordinance also requires every religious conversion to be scrutinized and certified by the state.

As per its provisions, advance notice of 60 days has to be given to the District Magistrate before the intended conversion, which is to be followed by a police enquiry into the circumstances of conversion. The religious priest doing the conversion is also required to give such prior notification. After the conversion, the person has to appear before the District Magistrate for confirmation. The authority will notify the conversion and will invite public objections, before confirming the conversion.

Taking exception to this, the petition stated that the concept of forcing an individual to explain and justify a decision, which is closely personal to him/her, before an officer of the State is contrary to constitutionalism.

“The Constitution imposes limitations on State power and burdens the State to explain and justify the decisions taken by it affecting the rights and lives of citizens. The Ordinance inverses this equation,” the plea states.

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Written By

Rushda Fathima Khan is the Staff Reporter for The Cognate.

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