If it were not for the Supreme Court in this country, the laws passed under the garb of the welfare and well being of the citizens and many other vital issues that get side drawn amidst political vote bank and sensational politics played by our so-called public – servants, serving ministers of Democratic India, we would be a puppet in the hands of politics.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the ‘love jihad’ proposed and acted upon Law passed by the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, both in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Notices were issued to both Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand governments on petitions challenging anti-conversion laws. The court, however, refused to stay the laws in the two states. It also issued a notice to the Centre by a three-judge bench headed by CJI SA Bobde. This following petitions filed by advocate Vishal Thakre and Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace.
The ‘love jihad’ law has been strongly criticized for punishing marriages based on religious conversions. Many stories and incidents have been widely reported in the media where the police have picked many couples under the ‘love jihad’ law, but as it turned out in most of these cases, the reported events were found to be baseless.
The petitions filed by the two mentioned above argued that the laws were being misused to harass individuals indulging in interfaith marriages. They argued that the Ordinance passed by the State of Uttar Prades and Law passed by Uttrakhand is against public policy and society and violates the constitution’s basic structure.
It also pointed out that similar legislation is being pondered upon in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, and Assam.
The Uttar Pradesh ordinance titled “Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Prdiannce, 2020”, which was promulgated on November 24, under which it outlaws religious conversions by marriage, coercion, deceit, or enticement.
The Law states a jail term from one to five years, fines up to Rs15000 for those convicted under the Law. The jail term can go up to 10 years, and fines can increase up to Rs 25,000 for conversions of women belonging to scheduled caste or scheduled tribe communities or those who are minors.
Yogi Adiyanath has been found to have a certain closeness to the issue and has expressed strong opinions on the subject many times over.
Does the Law have any basis?
To be absolutely honest, yes, it is not uncommon in our country to come across instances where the women are forced to convert from their original religion to that of the husband’s family.
Both Islam and Christianity have, for a long time, played on the ideology of conversion. Christianity promises better prospects for those who agree to conversions by providing amenities like free or subsidized education in convent schools for the children of convertees. It is a tactic that has been widely used and misused.
However, one needs to study and understand the root of the problem. The root of the problem lies in the complexities of the social structure prevalent in our country –
1) Women have not been given the fundamental right to make and take decisions on their own. Even though we are in a century where technology, finance, education has made great strides, we are unfortunately still slave to society at large.
Every day they are instances of gruesome cases of rapes and molestations against women all across the country. A woman is still considered a commodity.
She is in chains; she leaves the father’s house in chains and enters the husband’s house still in chains.
In most cases, it is nothing short of a trade, marked by the prospects of dowry.
The family of women still believes that it is a burden to bear a girl child, and the burden is transferred as a trade of gifts, money, and slavery in the house that the woman is married in.
Yes, she may be educated now, but unfortunately, it has been seen that even the most educated are slaves to society pressures, and there is just a handful who actually do not discriminate between a girl child and a male child.
It is not so that these issues are only found to be true in villages, far-flung corners of the country, but it is right here in front of our eyes even in cities, where the prospects for education and exposure are plenty, but it thrives in cities too.
- Religion is an important aspect for and of everyone’s existence; it is a fundamental right of every individual to believe and practice what they consider to be important for them, but when religion takes the center and becomes a source of competition and comparisons, that is where the problems crop up.
We have not yet advanced to a place where we see beyond religion to a commonplace of Humanity; we have a right to follow and practice that what we believe in, but that is not the basis of what faith is better or worse. Or that one is better than the other; it does not make an individual who practices one religion better or above than another who practices and believes in something different.
However, religion has been exploited to the very core time and time again by those who wish to come to power, whether political or otherwise.
Vote Banks are made and broken on religion as the main focal point. Sects, Caste, and Religion is the way to come to power.
The political aspirants, in their speeches and manifestoes, pit one region against another. They pit one individual against the other and, through their propaganda, exploit the people’s sentiments for their own gain.
We know this, we have seen this, yet we remain slaves to such people, we know it in our hearts and minds, yet we choose to abide by these politically motivated games.
The Ordinance that has been passed by Aditya Yoginath, while it does address an important issue, but one cannot help but question the honesty of the same.
This Ordinance can, in the hands of those who enjoy wielding power, become a potent weapon in the hands of bad elements of the society.
In their hands, it can be a tool that destroys the lives of individuals who may not be indulging in such acts. Many reports have come in where mobs are targeting and lifting, inflicting people of grave injuries from marriage ceremonies.
If it comes to stay, this Ordinance could break the very thread that makes this country a country of many religions, each having the right to practice, individuals from different states and regions living together in harmony that forms the fundamental foundation of this democratic country.