11, Feb 2021 | Srishti Ojha
Citizens for Justice and Peace has approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to challenge Love-jihad laws passed by Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in its plea challenging the laws made by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against religious conversions for the sake of marriages.
The petitioner seeks to make the inclusion after being informed that the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 and the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020 have also been passed along the lines of the laws being challenged .
The plea was filed originally for challenging the constitutional validity of the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 and the passing of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
According to the petitioner, the Indian citizens enjoy the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right but the Acts and the Ordinances are unconstitutional as they attempt to control the life of the residents of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, and to not allow them to take charge of the significant decisions in their life.
The petitioner has therefore requested addition of the State of Himachal Pradesh and the State of Madhya Pradesh as Respondents to challenge the constitutional validity of the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 and the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
The application states that the Himachal Pradesh Act has re-enacted the struck-down provisions of the 2006 Act, and has done so in a form which is even more obnoxious and unconstitutional than the provisions which were struck down by the Honourable High Court of Himachal Pradesh in Evangelical Fellowship of India v. State of Himachal Pradesh 2013. The petitioner has called it a case of patent Legislative overreach and an attempt to legislatively overrule a binding declaration of law by the competent High Court.
In consideration of the fact that the Himachal Pradesh Act was notified one month after the Uttar Pradesh Ordinance was promulgated, the petitioner opines that the decision was not based on any substantial statistics of alleged love jihad instances but just following suit as other States were anticipating enacting similar laws.
The application states that the enforcement of the Madhya Pradesh Ordinance comes in the face of harassment of young vulnerable couples who are deprived of their right to marry any individual on their free will and is modelled on the UP ordinance, Uttarakhand Act and the Himachal Pradesh Act that penalises conversion from one religion to another for marriage.
According to the petitioner Love Jihad has played over the years to divide the country with no official numbers or evidence of forced conversions and that the fears of rising ‘love jihad’ cases have been “baseless” from the very start. Even though the rhetoric of Love Jihad has been sold off quite often in India, especially starting from Kerala and Karnataka, the Government had admitted that the term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws and no such case of ‘Love Jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies.
The application has requested for an amendment in its writ petition and addition of the following two prayers:
- Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ order or direction to declare the impugned Act – Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 ultra vires of the Constitution of India;
- Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ order or direction to declare the impugned Ordinance – Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020- ultra vires of the Constitution of India;
The petitioner has also requested for an amendment in the application filed seeking stay of the conversion laws and has urged to add the following two prayers:
- Stay the operation of Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 ultra vires of the Constitution of India;
- Stay the operation of Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020;
The application has been filed by Advocate Tanima Kishore on behalf of the petitioner.
The original article may be read here.