There are two viewpoints to the term Love Jihad, First is “it is a conspiracy meant to convert non-Muslim women particularly Hindu women under the pretext of marriage” and this section support that marriage before marriage or after marriage should be declared illegal. However, the second group says “there is no jihad in Love, Love is pure.” Today we will try to evaluate the need, and origin of “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.”
History or the origin of Love Jihad
Love Jihad and took national attention in the year 2009 because of some developments in Kerala and Karnataka. In Bengaluru, an eighteen-year-old girl married to a twenty-four-year-old Muslim boy. The father of the girl filed a case in Karnataka High court which asked the Karnataka Police CIA team to investigate. Karnataka Police conducted an investigation, and you will be surprised about the report, it said this was an adult consensual relationship between two, without any such thing called Love Jihad. A beautiful act by the court, allowed the girl to choose the terms of her life, and she chooses to go with her husband. During this time Karnataka Police conducted an investigation involving more than hundreds of inter-religious marriages in the region to find out any pattern of Love Jihad. The report was submitted in December 2009 to Karnataka High Court which stated that “there is no organized attempt to any group of individuals to entice girls/women to Hindu or Christian religion to marry Muslim boys with an aim of converting them to Islam”.
The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), once met the governor of Maharashtra and asked about increasing cases of Love Jihad, and an RTI was filled for data. And you will be surprised with the reply of RTI, which said that “NCW don’t collect or deal with such data.’
According to the first viewpoint, what we have seen in the introduction says that Love Jihad is a reality, we can witness it by opening our daily newspaper. However, the second viewpoint considers it a “Loch Ness Monster” that is never seen by anybody, but people believe it exists. I will go with the second view point, that love has no religion.
What Fundamental Rights of India and Supreme Court says?
According to Article 21 ‘, the right to life and personal liberty includes the right to live with dignity, the right to privacy, and many more. And Article 25 provides innermost freedom to choose a religion or the freedom to be free from any religion, and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate the chosen religion. However, constitution has also imposed some reasonable restrictions such as on the grounds of public order (forced conversions), morality, and health, etc.
On the grounds of Public order Madhya Pradesh and Orissa passed anti-conversion laws which were challenged in SC in 1977 (Rev. Stainislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors January, 1977). Here, the argument was that the Church’s Father said “if I have the right to propagate my religion means I have the right to convert others to my religion, as I want my religion spreads.” The SC declared the conversions illegal and said “the conversion is valid only if it is due to change in conscience without any threat, allurement, coercion, etc.”
Hadiya case where a Hindu girl “Akhila Ashokan” first convert to Islam and them married to a Muslim boy Shafin Jehan. The father of girl filled a case by framing the marriage under “Love Jihad,” and the Kerala High court annulled the marriage and the matter went to the Supreme court. The Supreme court says “the matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. Neither the State nor the law can dictate a choice of partners or limit the free ability of every person to decide on these matters” and allow Hadiya to join her husband.
Although in 2020, a single judge bench of Allahabad High court says that “the conversion just for the purpose of marriage is unacceptable,” however, this bench after few month also said “Right to live with a person of his/her choice is irrespective of religion professed by them.” This is the case which became the basis of “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.”
Now let’s see the Law passed by UP and MP which are clearly against the earlier orders of Supreme Court
The individual wants to convert will submit a notice to District Magistrate (DM) before two months. Then DM will institute a police inquiry to check whether the conversion is not due to fraud, or forced, or not for marriage. Any conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is illegal and would be declared null and void. It makes religious conversion for marriage a non-bailable offence and the onus will be on the defendant to prove that conversion was not for marriage.
Arguments against the law:
- Patriarchy: The women have no individuality, no freedom, are gullible to be cheated by men, so the men will decide whom she should marry and to which religion she should convert.
- Violates vital principle of free will: That says you have the right to believe in a particular religion or change whenever you want to, without announcing to others, but here you need to give notice to DM. There is one more problem with this if the woman got converted to any religion by her free will, does she would be ineligible for marriage for the rest of her life?
- Likely to be misused laws: A couple married inter-religiously with the will of their parents, even then the case could be filled by any relative. As a woman, she has no right to decide upon the person to marry, and this will be done by society and make her chattel of family. The same case happens where even relatives were not against, but an organization approach the police and police stopped the marriage.
- Violates the core principle of criminal justice system: It considers a person innocent until proven otherwise, and it is for the prosecution and the state to prove the person guilty. However, this law changes the concept upside down. The law puts the burden of proof on the person who is performing this conversion.
- The vaguely defined word Allurement: This would cause problems in cases. If a person converted to a particular religion by their free will or conscience, forced for reconversion to their previous religion is still unacceptable, but the law is silent on this.
- Women- a separate category: If a law is violated by a male it would invite a jail term of 1 to 5 years with or without Rs 15,000. However, if the law is violated by a minor woman or a woman from the SC or ST category, the jail term would be a minimum of three years which would be extended to 10 years with or without a fine of Rs. 25,000.
Arguments in favor of law:
- Male Chauvinism and Patriarchy: An inter-religious marriage where both parsons accept each other with their religions are accepted. However, some marriages lead to conversion, if we see in the majority, women get converts. There are three key elements if the bride embraces the religion of her husband; because now she has to align herself according to the new house or the husband, which should be opposed.
- Bigotry: Husband asked her to convert because he is uncomfortable living with a person of another faith.
- Community-level supremacist attitude: Husband is considering his religion superior then the wife, which is not acceptable, so the law is good.
Special Marriage Act, 1954
Let’s go to British India when under the concept of “White Man’s Burden” Britishers took responsibility for religious reforms. Some religious or social evil such as the Purda system, Sati system was abolished which was one of the reason of triggering the revolt in 1857. They understood that to rule India, they need to abstain from their personal or religious involvement. As India has a history of inter-religious marriages for centuries, so, they came with a new law. An inter-religious union could only be solemnized only under act 3 of the law of 1872 the person would publicly renounce her/his religion. After Independence Indian legislature created a law called Special Marriage Act, 1954 which had not solve anything but created some:
- Notice period: If anybody wants to register their marriage under the act, they need to submit a notice before 30 days. The marriage application will be prominently displayed at the office which contains the time, date, and place of the marriage. Many a time this displayed application acts as an open invitation for the one who wants to oppose the marriage, even physical force can be used to stop the registration.
- Location of application: The marriage could be registered only at the place where at least one of the parties resides. This becomes unreal if opposed by both the families and the couple run away. This may also the reason for conversion first and then register under Personal law.
We need an honest law to deal with inter-religious marriages, without any conversion. We are the society with the highest degree of diversity which is living within us for centuries, and we need to embrace the love, acceptance of one another beyond the boundaries of any religion. As I feel the “Love or Marriage after the attainment of a certain age should be driven by the will of person whether girl or boy and society has no right to intervene upon individual choices”
Picture from google.com