Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Labdhi Jain, I year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Manipal University Jaipur
Love Jihad is a term coined by the Bhartiya Janata Party that describes the marriage of a Hindu girl to a Muslim boy. It states that Muslim boys are luring Hindu girls into marriage so that the Hindu woman converts into Islam. Recently, the Uttar Pradesh governor AnandibenPatel gave her assent to the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. The main aim of this ordinance is to provide for the prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means or by marriage. According to this ordinance, all such marriages undertaken with the sole purpose of unlawful religious conversion will be declared null and void. If charged with this then a person might face a jail term of up to 10 years and the offence is non-bailable. Many other Bharatiya Janata Party owned states like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, and Karnataka are on their way to passing a law against ‘love jihad’. If a state like Uttar Pradesh that is the most populated state of India passes such an ordinance based on a concept that does not even exist in reality then it is a grave issue.
Constitutionality of Ordinance
This ordinance does not have a legal basis. It is taking away the constitutional right granted to men and women of this country.
It is violative of Article 21that is Right to Life, Right to privacy, and Article 25 Right to practice any religion of choice. It also takes away our basic rights like the Right to love and the Right to liberty.
The ordinance also has some faults. First, even if the couple does not complain and if the third party like family or any other grief person from the community complains that the marriage is undertaken only for the sake of conversion then it will be considered illegal by a family court and it will be declared null and void. The onus of proving that conversion was not forced rests on the person converted. So if someone even makes a frivolous complaint then the couple’s marriage is endangered. It will burden them. How will a couple prove that this is not a forced marriage? This still seems unclear.
Secondly, anyone wanting to convert for the sake of marriage would have to give two-month prior notice to the local district magistrate otherwise, that person will face a fine plus three years in jail. This will make an interfaith couple more vulnerable to the family and community who are against their marriage. A two months’ time period would give enough time to the family to break their relationship. This would traumatize the couple. Marriage, in this case, has very little chances that it will culminate successfully because society would try every trick in the book to stop it. The family and society will intimidate and assault the couple. It could even lead to the killing of the couple in the name of religion.
This ordinance is also against the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that defines religious conversion as a human right. As per Article 18 of it “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief.”
Fragmentation of society
It targets Muslim men and fuels the concept of Islamophobia. By making laws on this fictional term called ‘Love Jihad’ we are not only moving away from the values that were given by our leaders but we are distorting the entire concept of secular India.
This ordinance will further disintegrate society. We are going back to the casteism that we were battling from centuries and trying to move away from it. This idea would threaten the concept of India’s unity and diversity.
We should move forward towards a more integrated society where there is acceptance for all religions and not back to a society where there was discrimination based on which religion one follows. We do not need a primitive and orthodox society that is not open to accepting others and thinks its religion is superior. There is a dire need for a tolerant India that respects each religion. A huge struggle has been undertaken by our leaders to make sure there is equality in India and everybody can follow the religion of their choice. We should not let their efforts go to vain.
It is a mockery of a female’s intellect and judgment. It shows that society still has a mindset that women are vulnerable and still they are dependent on others to choose what is right for them or not.
A woman is capable of making her own decisions; she knows what is right for her and what is not. Women have a choice and they are free to choose whoever they want to marry. They cannot be shamed, mocked, or put down based on the choices that they make. Women cannot be questioned for something that they are doing under the ambit of the constitution. They are just practising their rights and not even her family can question her for that.
The Uttar Pradesh government is in name of protecting women fulfilling its ulterior motives. One community is looked at as a victim and another community is looked upon with suspicion. The state should facilitate marriage and not spread hate based on religion. Marriage is a sacred institution that should not be corrupted by politics based on religion. The people who are getting married should be treated as two adults who are free to make their choices and not as Hindu or Muslims. We should not forget the ideals stated in the Preamble. Being a secular country we cannot promote one religion and attack the other.
Every individual should be free to love anyone and there should be no boundaries in love in the name of caste or religion. Love happens naturally, it does not see the religion that person practises then why religion should be a criterion for marriage.
Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020
the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights