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Opinion

‘Love Jihad’ law goes against freedom of choice: Lokur

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A recently passed ordinance in Uttar Pradesh prohibiting forced conversions by marriage, coercion or seduction is unfortunate because it puts freedom of choice, dignity and human rights in the back seat, former Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur said.

Delivering a public lecture on Sunday, Lokur said laws punishing interfaith marriages violate jurisprudence developed by the Supreme Court that protects freedom of choice and human dignity.

“Giving a backseat to freedom of choice, dignity and human rights, a strict ordinance related to marriage and forced conversion was recently passed in Uttar Pradesh… Are we as a society ready for this?” Lokur said.

“What about the law declared by the Supreme Court in 2018 in the Hadiya case?” she asked, referring to the high court verdict recognizing an adult woman’s choice to convert to Islam and marry a man of her choice.

His comments came days after Uttar Pradesh enacted the UP-2020 Illegal Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance that banned religious conversions by marriage, coercion, deception or seduction, and prescribed up to 10 years in prison for the culprits. The law includes a provision to annul a marriage if it is solemnized primarily to convert a woman’s faith. The burden of proof rests with the person who was converted and those who converted.

The former judge, who delivered the Sunil Memorial Lecture, recalled that in 2018, the Uttarakhand legislature introduced a similar law, called the Freedom of Religion Act, where marriages performed for the sole purpose of religious conversion were declared null and void. .

“The purpose of these laws is to prohibit what is commonly known as ‘love jihad,’ which has no clear definition … The carefully drafted and assiduously developed jurisdiction of dignity over the years by the Supreme Court is slowly receiving an unworthy Hathras-type cremation and could reach a point of no return if so-called anti-jihad laws against love are passed or extended to other communities, ”he said, referring to the forced cremation of a Dalit rape victim by part of local authorities in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh. month.

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