18, Dec 2020
The petition submitted that Article 25 of the Constitution allows the ‘right to convert’ to any religion by choice.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by Citizens For Justice And Peace in the Supreme Court on Monday, 14 December, challenging the constitutional validity of the recently passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, better known as the ‘Love Jihad’ laws.
The writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India has been filed through Advocate Ms Tanima Kishore. CJP’s petition alleges that ‘Love Jihad’ is a narrative spun to undermine principles of pluralism and diversity in the society.
The laws allegedly violates the right to equality and the right against discrimination under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution because under the said Act and Ordinance, only residents of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will be subjected to State Intervention in a private matter of religious freedom.
‘Love Jihad’ Law Violates Secularism, Equality, Privacy And Non-Discrimination: CJP
The plea stated, “The concept of Love Jihad is an illusory construct based on rhetoric to promote divisiveness in society, generate permanent suspicious attitudes towards Islam and the Muslim community and create enmity between communities and breach harmony.”
The plea also stated, “Love Jihad is not a notion that has developed over night and that it has been the constant effort of the sectarian Government to place extra constitutional trust at the hands of the Police.”
The petition has raised issues over privacy, excessive Constitutional powers to the police and alleges the law must be struck down because it violates secularism, equality and non-discrimination.
CJP Secretary and Human Rights Defender Teesta Setalvad said, “Such laws need a challenge. Already the spectre of ‘Love Jihad’, an illusory concept, has caused unimaginable misery, led to violence and intimidation by the police and non-state actors. ‘Laws’ that impinge on privacy, freedoms, autonomy and violate principles of equality and non discrimination have no place in 21st century ‘free India’.”
The petition also alleges that the laws discriminate against women, taking away their agency and are, therefore, bad in law and substance. Setalvad said, “More than anything else, they are anti-women as they discriminate against women denying them all agency,” according to the CJP blog post about the judgement.
The petition further states, “The Act and Ordinance seemed to be premised on conspiracy theories and assumes all conversions are illegally forced upon individuals who may have attained the age of majority.”
The petition submitted that Article 25 of the Constitution allows the ‘right to convert’ to any religion of your choice. However, the Ordinance infringes this right by imposing discriminatory restrictions by mandating that the administration be informed of such intent and a probe be launched in such a personal and intimate exercise of one’s right, reported LiveLaw.
(With inputs from CJP website and Livelaw.)
The Original piece can be read here