Love Jihad

Introduction:

How many of us are familiar with the story of Thulukka Nachariyar? An epic tale of communal harmony that is a part of Indian history. It is the story behind the portrait of a Muslim princess in the Thiruvarangam temple. It is tale that transcends the borders that mortals set in name of religion. It is tale that reminds that God is one and that love arises above all. A country which boasts of such tales and instances in its history, sadly is turning into the flagbearer of religious intolerance especially in the recent times. Be it the mob lynching incidents, or the Citizenship Amendment Act, it is impossible to ignore the pattern of rising bigotry and prejudice against a particular religion. The latest to join the list is the laws based on the concept of ‘Love Jihad’ such as the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 that has been passed in Uttar Pradesh and the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religious Ordinance, 2020. The latest state to pass out a legislation on the same is Gujarat, The Freedom of Religion Act, 2021.

Love Jihad:

What exactly is love jihad? In simple words, love jihad is the idea that Muslim men seduce and marry women of other religions with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam. This is a right-wing idea, with no solid evidence to back it. It enforces the idea that there occur ‘forced conversions of  women in the name of love are part of an international conspiracy to increase Muslim population’[1] Love Jihad is not a new concept in India. It started off as allegations in parts of the state of Kerala and Karnataka. Love Jihad put in plain words is the concept of ‘marriage for the sole purpose of conversion’, however the laws that have been promulgated in this regard criminalises and terms both marriage for conversion and vice-versa as a non-bailable offence. This is extremely Islamophobic and extremist in nature as it can spew hatred and discord among the citizens of the country.

Violation of Fundamental Rights:

The ‘love jihad’ law is extremely problematic in light of being violative of fundamental rights and a patriarchal notion that women cannot make choices on their lives and need to be protected. The rights that are violated by the promulgation of this ordinance include the right to life[2], the right to personal liberty[3], the right to equality[4] and the equal protection of the law and the right to freedom of movement[5]. “Cases concerning the right to marry – for example, cases of child marriage, early marriage, forced marriage, or interference with the right to marry – may result in the violation of a number of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The enforcement of such rights by the Courts is unequivocally secured under Art. 32 of the Indian Constitution.”[6]

Right to marry and choose the partner of one’s choice is also enshrined in international covenants[7] and is considered a basic human right. It is also a part of the right to privacy. The landmark Puttaswamy judgement[8] states “Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. Personal choices governing a way of life are intrinsic to privacy. Privacy attaches to the person since it is an essential facet of the dignity of the human being”[9]

It was held in the case of Salamat Ansari-Priyanka Kharwar[10] by the Allahabad High Court that ‘The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty’[11] while overturning its previous judgements.

In the case of Lata Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh[12], it was stated “This is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major, he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes.”[13]

In the judgement of the famous ‘Love Jihad’[14] case where the Supreme Court held that Right to Marry is a fundamental rights, it was stated that “The Constitution guarantees to each individual the right freely to practise, profess and propagate religion. Choices of faith and belief as indeed choices in matters of marriage lie within an area where individual autonomy is supreme. Social approval for intimate personal decisions is not the basis for recognising them.”[15]

Analysis of these judicial statements point to the idea that the said legislations or the ‘love jihad laws’ are violative of constitutionally guaranteed human rights.

Conclusion:

‘Love Jihad,’ as reiterated throughout the essay has not been proved or backed by evidence. Curbing people’s right to choose, right to marry and subjecting them to punishment on its grounds is gross human rights violation. Laws based on the concept of love jihad that has been introduced in the states of the country has been reinforced patriarchal values in times when women strive towards social equality. “Hindu patriarchal notions appear to be deeply entrenched. Images of passive victimised Hindu women at the hands of inscrutable Muslims abound, and any possibility of women exercising their legitimate right to love and right to choice is ignored.”[16]

Laws which restrict intermarriages draws a path towards social regression rather than progression. In times, when diversity ought to be celebrated and acceptance should be the norm, laws like this increase communal divide and spread hatred. It is high time, India as a country start living up to the slogan ‘Unity in Diversity’ which is proudly paraded by all the citizens.


[1] Charu Gupta; “Hindu Women, Muslim Men: Love Jihad and Conversions.” Economic and Political Weekly 44, no. 51 (2009): 13-15; Page 14

[2] Constitution of India, 1950; Article 21

[3] Id

[4] Constitution of India, 1950; Article 14

[5] Constitution of India, 1950; Article 19(d)

[6] Do Indian women have a right to choose whether, when and whom to marry?; King’s Student Law Review;; (March 31, 2012);  https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kslr/?p=253

[7] Refer Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 16; International Covenant Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Article 23; Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 1979, Article 16; Human Rights Act, 1993, Article 12

[8] Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.; 2017 10 SCC 1

[9] Justice K.S. Puttaswamy; Para 187 [F]

[10] Salamat Ansari and Ors. vs. State of U.P. and Ors; Crl. Mis. Writ Petition No. 11367 of 2020

[11] Salamat Ansari; Id; Para 14

[12] Lata Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh; (2006) 5 SCC 475

[13] Lata Singh; Id; Para 17

[14] Shafin Jahan vs. Asokan K.M. and Ors.; AIR 2018 SC 1933

[15] Shafin Jahan; Para 75

[16] Supra 1; Page 14

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