Marriage is a personal affair, any two adults with their respectful consent can marry or even live together irrespective of religion. Now in a recent period of time, the law allow marriage between the same sex and or the other. The right to freedom of choice emanates from the most cherished right of life and personal liberty. The UP ordinance seeks to infringe the right to life of two individual under article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Love jihad or Romeo jihad is an Islam-phobic conspiracy theory alleging that Muslim men targeting women of non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning of love. The concept emerged to a national level in India in 2009 with the first conversion in Kerala and subsequently in Karnataka. The wave of this controversy spread throughout India and beyond the boundaries of a country like Myanmar, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Much Muslim organisation has denied the allegations. But it remains a political contention and social concern. Uttar Pradesh becomes the first state to bring up the anti-love jihad. Cabinet passed the ordinance week after the declaration by CM Yogi Adityanath. CM had also referred to the ruling of Allahabad High Court in Priyanshi km. Shamren and others v. State of U.P and another (writ C no. 14288 of 2020).
RULING OF THE UP ORDINANCE
The Uttar Pradesh government approved a draft ordinance to curb forcible or dishonest religious conversion including those for the sake of marriage. According to the draft, which is now law after its promulgation by the state governor Anandiben Patel. Conversion and marriage through religious law are one of the legal ways inter-faith couples often take to avoid this one month notice to the state, even at the risk of losing right under personal law.
The UP ordinance under section 6, “any marriage which was done for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa” shall be void. This means that if two consenting adults have decided to convert their religion for sake of marriage then such marriage would be declared null and void. The offence under this ordinance is non-bailable and a cognizable, it means that an arrest can be made without a warrant. Section 4 enables any person related to the converted person by blood or marriage to lodge an FIR against the conversion.
The minimum punishment is of one year which can be increased to five years and a fine of fifteen thousand rupees is prescribed. Men are awarded higher degree of punishment if convicted of causing conversion of women, minor or a person belonging to scheduled caste or tribe, the minimum punishment is of two years which extend to 10 years with the fine of twenty-five thousand rupees.
The ordinance stated that whosoever found in mass conversion shall be held liable for the offence with the imprisonment which shall not less than three years, which extend to 10 years and shall also liable for fine, not less than fifty thousand rupees.
The ordinance shows up another perspective too, one who desires to convert voluntary, he/she give the declaration form to the District Magistrate before sixty days of marriage stated under section 8 of the ordinance. The form must prescribe that the conversion is being done out of a free will and without force, undue influence, coercion and allurement. The DM will have to look into the matter by himself/herself that the conversion is voluntary if the permission is granted, then the Priest, Mulla or Maulvi, Padri or Pujari shall inform the DM regarding the venue and time of the same conversion. If he so fails to do, then he too will be liable under the ordinance.
The most crucial part of the ordinance is that the burden of proof is on the person who has caused the conversion and where such conversion has been facilitated by any person, on such other person(section 12)
The ordinance not only has negative impact on their inter-faith marriage but also violates an individual’s right to choose a life partner which is in the ambit of article 21 of Indian Constitution. Our constitution has given an absolute right to choose life as the part of liberty and individual autonomy. There are many landmarks judgement had been passed by courts which state that neither state nor court have jurisdiction over an adult’s right to a choose life partner. Hence this ordinance is nothing but an intrusion personal liberty of an adult’s couple.
India being a free democratic and secular country gives the liberty to every citizen the right to choose, propagate, profess and convert his/her religion. Therefore it is the duty and responsibility of government implementing such laws to ensure that these laws do not violate the fundamental rights of an individual and strike a balance people’s freedom and unlawful conversions.