On Monday, the Supreme Court issued notice of petitions challenging the laws of U.P. and Uttarakhand in the name of ‘love jihad’ against religious conversions for the sake of marriage.
The petition was filed by Vishal Thakre & others and social activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’ (CJP), was considered by a bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices V Ramasubramanian and AS Bopanna.
The petitions challenged the constitutional validity of the recently passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.
Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh (CU Singh), appearing for the CJP, sought a stay on the provisions of the law which mandate that prior permission should be obtained for religious conversions for marriage.
He also submitted that the provisions are oppressive and that prior permissions to marry is absolutely obnoxious. He also added that many innocent persons have been picked up by police on the basis of U.P. Ordinance alleging Love Jihad.
The bench asked the petitioners to approach the respective High Courts and was not inclined to entertain the petitions. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the Allahabad High Court was already considering the challenge against the laws.
But the bench agreed after CU Singh and Advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav submitted that they are challenging laws of two states, which are creating widespread problems in the society. The lawyers submitted that more states, like Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, are drafting similar laws.
“You are asking for a relief which we cannot entertain under Article 32. Whether a provision is arbitrary or oppressive needs to be seen. This is the problem when you come directly to the Supreme Court“, CJI remarked while ordering notice. The notice is returnable within 4 weeks.
The CJP, in its PIL filed through Advocate Tanima Kishore, has contended that the provisions of the impugned Act and Ordinance, both violate Article 21 of the Constitution as it empowers the State to suppress an individual’s personal liberty and impinge upon an individual’s right to freedom of choice and to freedom of religion.
It is further submitted that the right to convert oneself to another religion is given under Article 25 of the Constitution. However, the Ordinance and the Act impinge upon this right by imposing unreasonable and discriminatory restrictions on it by mandating that the administration be informed of such intention. The other PIL filed by Vishal Thakre, Abhay Singh Yadav, and Pranvesh plead that these laws made in the name of love jihad be declared null and void because they disturb the basic structure of the Constitution.