Press Trust of india

PILs filed in SC challenging laws against religious conversions in UP, Uttarakhand

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New Delhi: Two PILs challenging the laws of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage were filed Thursday.

The first PIL filed by Vishal Thakre, Abhay Singh Yadav and Pranvesh sought direction for declaring the laws as ultra vires and null and void as they disturb the basic structure of the Constitution.

They have used the term “Love Jihad” in the petition to challenge the laws that deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage.

The laws passed by the two states are against the public policy and society at large, the plea said.

The petition contends that the ordinance passed recently by UP is against the provisions of Special Marriage Act, 1954 and it will create fear in the society who are not part of “Love Jihad” and they can be falsely implicated.

The PIL said the ordinance can become a potent tool in the hands of bad elements of the society.

It has sought direction not to give effect to impugned provisions/ordinance and withdraw the same or in the alternative modify it.

The second PIL has been filed by advocate Neeraj Shukla against the law ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion ordinance, 2020’, passed by Uttar Pradesh.

The Uttar Pradesh government on November 24 approved the ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28 gave assent to an ordinance against forcible or “dishonest” religious conversions.

According to it, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate.

A lawyer said the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act was enacted in 2018 with the stated objective to provide freedom of religion by prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage and for the matters incidental thereto.

In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which party leaders often refer to as “love jihad”.

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