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Opinion

Allahabad High Court suspends arrest of man under ‘love jihad’ law

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On Friday, the Allahabad high court suspended the arrest of a man registered under the recently enacted Illegal Conversion of Religion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020 for allegedly attempting to marry a woman with the intention of converting her to his religion.

A bank made up of judges Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal told police not to take any enforcement action against the defendant, Nadeem, challenging the constitutional validity of the ordinance. The court was hearing a petition for a criminal warrant filed by Nadeem from Haridwar, who was booked by UP Police on November 29 for a complaint filed by one Akshay Kumar from Muzaffarnagar. This is the first time that a person registered under the new law approaches the HC.

Lead defender SFA Naqvi, representing Nadeem, argued that the ordinance is ultra vires of the Constitution and any criminal proceedings initiated under its provisions will be annulled. “The Special Marriage Act is a central act that provides a special form of marriage for interfaith couples. Provides forbidden degrees for marriages like royal brother and sister, etc. Once the central act defines the prohibited degrees for marriage beyond religion and castes, and then, through the contested ordinance, new degrees prohibited on religious grounds are created, this amounts to creating a community and divisive legislation that it is not at all permissible in our constitutional scheme. Once the central government has enacted the law on the issue of marriage, then there is no space available for the state government to pass the challenged ordinance, ”he said.

In the FIR it was alleged that Nadeem developed a relationship with the author’s wife for the purpose of converting his religion to marriage.

Nadeem has denied the allegations, stating that he was being falsely implicated simply to avoid paying some fees.

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