Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramadas
Cameraperson: Abhishek Ranjan
(This story was first published on 27 November 2020, and is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark one year since the anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh came into effect.)
Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan par ab UP ke ‘Love-Jihad’ ordinance aur desh ke kanoon ki seedhi takkar hone ja rahi hai!
A direct battle between the Uttar Pradesh ordinance on so-called ‘Love Jihad’ and the law of the land, is about to unfold. And we, the public, must pay attention and inform ourselves about this, because, at stake, are some of our basic rights – our right to choose a life partner, our right to life and liberty!
The UP government has passed an ordinance to deal with alleged forced religious conversion for the sake of marriage, following up on CM Adityanath’s stated intent of tackling the imaginary concept of ‘love jihad’ – with strict punishments.
WHY ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT DOESN'T AGREE WITH UP GOVT
But even as the Adityanath government lists out these punishments, the fact is that the highest court of law in UP – the Allahabad High Court itself, does not agree with the UP government.
Now this could confuse some of us, because, just days ago, Yogi Adityanath referred to another Allahabad High Court ruling while announcing and justifying his plan of passing an anti ‘Love Jihad’ law.
In that ruling, made in September 2020, a single-judge bench had said that religious conversion in an inter-faith marriage was not acceptable. Grabbing the opportunity offered by this ruling, the UP government and four other BJP-led state governments announced that they would all pass anti-love jihad laws.
But in fact, on 11 November, a two-judge Allahabad High Court bench said that the high court’s September ruling was ‘bad in law’ – meaning, it was WRONG! Hearing a petition filed by an inter-faith couple – Salamat Ansari and Priyanka Kharwar alias Alia – to quash a police complaint against them by the woman’s father, the court said –
Pay close attention to the Allahabad High Court’s ruling, because, it systematically tells us how wrong, how unlawful, how unconstitutional Uttar Pradesh’s Love Jihad ordinance is. Here’s another crucial line from its judgment –
Meaning not even Yogi Adityanath’s government, nor any anti ‘love jihad’ vigilante groups, not even Priyanka’s father could stop her.
ALLAHABAD HC RULING LEAVES UP GOVT'S 'LOVE JIHAD' ORDINANCE WITH NO LEGS TO STAND ON
When UP’s Additional Solicitor General arguing in favour of the woman’s father, referred to the HC’s September ruling that conversion only for the sake of marriage was not acceptable – the Allahabad High Court, as I mentioned a bit earlier, categorically dismissed that ruling as “bad in law” – WRONG!
It even cited the Supreme Court’s 2018 judgment in the Hadiya case – where it had upheld Hadiya’s conversion and inter-faith marriage. Simply put – the Allahabad High Court ruling leaves the UP government’s ‘love-jihad’ ordinance with no legal legs to stand on!
So, should the Adityanath government stop, reconsider and withdraw its ordinance, since it relies on a flawed and incorrect court ruling? Yes, it should. But will it? Seems unlikely.
TROUBLING KEY DETAILS OF THE ORDINANCE
Let’s examine a few more troubling key details of this ordinance –
- The ONUS of proving that the conversion was NOT forcible, was not done by deceit, not done solely for marriage, will rest on the person who converted.
What does this mean? Imagine an inter-faith couple – Muslim boy and Hindu girl or Hindu boy and Muslim girl or any such couple. Now, thanks to the ordinance, anyone –from family to anti-love-jihad vigilantes to the local administration itself – can make a completely frivolous charge of forcible conversion and an over-enthusiastic police, trying to please its political bosses, can file a case and arrest the couple claiming forcible conversion – and then sit back as the couple tried to prove that it wasn’t forcible.
- Anyone wanting to convert for the sake of marriage, would have to give a two-month advance notice to the local district magistrate or face a fine at least three years in jail.
Now what does this actually mean? It just makes an inter-faith couple highly vulnerable for those two months, during which time anyone – from family to panchayats to anti love-jihad goons – could pressure, intimidate, even physically attack this inter-faith couple or traumatise them into giving in and ending their relationship.
Does it sound fair? No… But, as I said, that’s the whole point – this ordinance isn’t meant be fair. This ordinance is meant to further divide us, to further demonise India’s Muslims, by criminalising the idea of inter-faith marriages, especially, Hindu-Muslim marriages – giving them this sinister label of ‘love jihad’.
So far the loony right could only pretend that there is such a thing as ‘love jihad’ and spread fake news about this fake phenomenon, but this ordinance seeks to make it real and even make it a crime to fall in love!
But Yeh Jo India Hai Na… a secular India will NOT allow this to happen.