- Apprentice Lawyer
Muslim youth is being targeted and demonized using the Uttar Pradesh ordinance on inter-faith marriages and religious conversion, Islamic organisation, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind submitted before the Supreme Court on Wednesday challenging the validity of the ordinance.
The organisation filed an application in this regard before the top court seeking intervention in the pending case before the apex court in which the Constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 have been assailed.
The ordinance, the applicant has claimed, attempts to regulate personal decisions of each human being by encroaching upon an individual’s choice to convert to a religion of his/her choice.
"Scrutiny by the state of such a personal decision is a grave assault on personal liberty of an individual and is violative of Article 21," reads the plea.
As per the ordinance, “Allurement” means and includes offer of any temptation in the form of:-
i. Any gift, gratification, easy money or material benefit either in cash or kind;
ii. Employment, free education in reputed school run by any religious body; or
iii. Better lifestyle, divine displeasure or otherwise
However, the plea states that if a person belonging to one religion, say Islam, gifts a non-Muslim, a book concerning the teachings of Islam and the said non- Muslim person who received the book after reading it decides to convert to Islam, the "said conversion could be said to have taken place by 'allurement' since it occurred after a gift was given to the convert."
The application further states that the ordinance gives State sanction and administrative support to the societal hostilities which persons intending to have inter-faith marriages will face.
The law could also be used by family members against couples who are not happy with their children marrying some person from another faith, it has been submitted.
The controversial ordinance titled, Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 (Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadhesh, 2020 in Hindi) was cleared by the State Cabinet in November and was signed off by the State Governor, Anandiben Patel on November 28.
The ordinance lays down a detailed procedure to be followed before an individual can convert from one religion to another. Violation of the same entails criminal liability on the individual who undergoes conversion and the individual who converts the person.
The ordinance also states that no person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.
Importantly, the ordinance casts the burden of proof on the accused.
At least two petitions are pending before the top court assailing the ordinance for violation of right to privacy under Article 21 and right to religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde had on Wednesday morning issued notice on two petitions. However, the Court refrained from staying the operation of the ordinance.