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SC to hear pleas challenging state laws regulating inter-faith marriage

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had also moved the top court, challenging the anti-conversion laws of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday posted for hearing on February 3, a batch of pleas challenging controversial state laws regulating religious conversions due to inter-faith marriages.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud adjourned the matter for February 3.
The Centre opposed the plea of activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO, ‘Citizens for Peace and Justice’ (CJP) saying the NGO has no locus to challenge the anti-conversion laws passed by several states.

CJP Love Azad

Picture courtesy: CJP

Senior advocate CU Singh, appearing for the NGO, submitted that people cannot get married due to these state laws and the situation is very grave.

The Centre said the NGO espouses divisive politics and seeks to divide society on religious and communal lines and suggested that the court may hear the challenge to the law by all other petitioners barring the NGO, of which activist Setalvad is the Secretary.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had also moved the top court, challenging the anti-conversion laws of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

It had contended that these laws have been enacted to “harass” interfaith couples and implicate them in criminal cases.

Several Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed challenging anti-conversion laws passed by some state governments.

Earlier, the top court on January 6, 2021, had agreed to examine the constitutional validity of a spate of laws enacted by state governments such as Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand that criminalise religious conversion via marriage and mandate prior official clearance before marrying into another faith.

The apex court had however not stayed the implementation of the Prohibition Of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

anti conversion bill

The apex court while hearing pleas challenging the laws, had issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments.

The pleas in the apex court stated that “Rampaging mobs are lifting off people in the middle of wedding ceremonies,” buoyed by the enactment of the laws.

The laws were against public policy and society at large, they added.

The controversial Uttar Pradesh Ordinance relates to not only interfaith marriages but all religious conversions and lays down elaborate procedures for any person who wishes to convert to another religion.

The Uttarakhand government, in its laws, has a provision of two-year jail term to any person or persons found guilty of religious conversion through “force or allurement”.

The pleas stated that the laws passed by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against ‘Love Jihad’ and punishments thereof may be declared ultra vires and null and void because they disturb the basic structure of the Constitution as laid down by the law.

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