From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Art. 21 and 25
Mains level : Freedom of Religion
The UP Cabinet has cleared a draft ordinance against forceful inter-faith conversions for marriage, amid similar steps by other states.
Try this question:
Q. In a world where religiosity is rising, the contemporary liberal ideas seem outdated and incapable of handling dangerous issues of religious bigotry. Critically comment.
What is the proposed UP law on ‘love jihad’?
- The proposed law defines punishment and fine for three different cases.
- Conversion done though “misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means” would face jail term of one to 5 years, and a minimum fine of Rs 15,000.
- Conversion of a minor, a woman from the SC or ST would have to face a jail term from three to 10 years, with a minimum fine of Rs 25,000.
- If such conversion is found at the mass level, then those guilty would face jail term from three to 10 years, with a minimum fine of Rs 50,000.
- It proposes among other things that a marriage will be declared “shunya” (null and void) if the “sole intention” of the same is to “change a girl’s religion”.
Who can convert and how can they do it under the proposed law?
- Under the new proposed law, anyone wanting to convert into another religion would have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance.
- The government is supposed to prepare a format for the application and the individual has to fill the application for conversion in that format.
- However, under the new law, it would be the responsibility of the one going for the religious conversion to prove that it is not taking place forcefully or with any fraudulent means.
- In case, any violation is found under this provision, then one faces a jail term from 6 months to 3 years and fine of minimum Rs 10,000.
Need for such law
- The state of UP is witnessing rising incidents of forced religious conversions or conversions through fraudulent ways.
- The extreme right wing politicians in the state were quiet vocal against alleged religious conversions.
- There are cases of being allegedly lured and honey-trapped by men and those girls now seeking their help to free themselves.
Interfaith marriages and the Constitution
- The right to marry a person of one’s choice is a guarantee under Article 21.
- At the same time, freedom of conscience, the practice and propagation of a religion of one’s choice, including not following any religion, are guaranteed under Article 25.
- One set of rights cannot invalidate the other.
What do critics say?
- Such law to regulate matrimonial relationships between two consenting adults is simply against the constitutional guarantees.
- The right to marry a person of one’s choice flows from the freedom of individuality, naturally available to any individual.
- Hence, interfaith marriages and religious conversions should not be the matter of concern for social watchdogs.
- Hence, the mere statement of two consenting adults about the existence of their matrimonial relation is sufficient.