Four things are guaranteed to the Indian citizens as per the preamble of the
Indian constitution: first, justice, which is social, political and economic;
second, liberty of thought, belief, expression, worship and faith; third is the
equality of status and also of opportunity; and the fourth, fraternity, which
protects the integrity of the nation and dignity of the individual and the
The final guarantee of fraternity closely linked with brotherhood ensures
friendship, mutual support and consonant concur within the citizens irrespective
of all their class, religion and caste. The corporeity of democracy is
endangered when this idea of fraternity is shattered and is on the brink of
What is the anti conversion law all about?
Indian constitution is observing this attack on the fundamentals of
constitutional democracy, through this anti conversion law called as Uttar
Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
The ordinance is propagated to wage war against the deemed menace of love jihad,
a term used outline inter-religious marriages and relationships. According to
the ordinance, converting other person by way of fraud, misrepresentation,
coercion, and so on comes under the ambit of a criminal offence. This violates
the fundamental right to life and liberty and also strikes at the right to
practise religion. Also, in the broader sense this ordinance augments the
ideology of communalism by precluding few classes of the Indian population.
It also violates the fundamentals of criminal justice by presuming every
religious conversion to be unlawful and the burden of proof will lie on the
person arraigned for unlawful religious conversion. Furthermore, the cops can
detain the arraigned person without any warrant as the offence is non – bailable
It also requires the person aiming to convert to any other religion to contact
the district magistrate and then the specified person will conduct an enquiry
regarding the same.
Any kind of gift, material benefit or gratification can amount to inducement or
allurement under this ordinance. One interesting thing to be noted here is that
reconversion will not be considered unlawful despite being caused by force,
fraud, misrepresentation, coercion and so on. There's no criminal offense even
if one has converted voluntarily and then was reconverted forcefully. The
ordinary term for imprisonment is one to five years but if the aggrieved is a
woman, minor or a SC or ST, the imprisonment will be of 10 years.
Also, this law can amount to public misconduct as it allows the victim to bring
a lot of people under the ambit of this criminal offence including parents and
siblings. There's a high probability of innocent persons being mischeived.
Role of the judiciary
Large scale arrests have already been initiated as the ordinance has started
taking its tariff. Everyday a typical front page of any newspaper publishes an
arrest or separated couple stories related to this draconian law. It's high time
that the ordinance must be struck down and should not be permitted to be
ratified as a statute. This extermination of the freedoms and rights guaranteed
by the Constitution can only be stopped by the judiciary as the executive and
the legislature have certainly failed on this front.
Division bench of the Allahabad high court in a recent judgement of November
2020 said that “marriage is an individual's matter of choice and every person
has the fundamental right to marry the person of their choice”. The state cannot
intercede even if the decision inspires other crucial judgements. The division
bench also countermanded an earlier decision which said that the conversion to
Islam was valid only when it was based on an honest belief.
The interpretation of the apex court on Article 15 of the Constitution of
India, which guarantees freedom of conscience, free profession, practice and
propagation of religion, in the case of Ratilal Panachand Gandhi v/s State of
(1994), held that:
every person under our Indian Constitution has a guaranteed fundamental right to
manifest his belief and thoughts as warranted or enjoined by his religion and
also to disseminate his religious thoughts for the elucidation of others”.
The apex court of India has already repudiated to stay this particular
ordinance. When it comes to the exercise of power by the Supreme Court, there
seems to be no consistency. The CJI made some inspection on whether being in
love is a criminal offence and so on but nothing yonder than that.
What's the need to be concerned? The ordinance is much more than whom it
earmarks. The ordinance is emblematic of how the social structure is changing
aggressively and being changed fundamentally by the power of the executive. In a
broader sense the ordinance does the following: fortifies patriarchy, revival of
communalism, disintegrating the communities so on and so forth.
Religious nationalism is being revived, propagating the two nation theory. This
version of nationalism which is popularised in the present day context is very
much grave and slowly making its way in each and every part of our lives. Rather
than true nationalism, India is experiencing a forced nationalism which cannot
propagate true culture and moral spirit.
The ordinance disseminates a regressive agendum. It links individual freedom and
autonomy with religion and community. The purpose of the society or community is
described by the few ideologist individual men, whom the people think of as
intellectuals and people with better knowledge of the culture, tradition and
society. The Anti Conversion ordinance talks about only third party conversions.
It neglects a person's individual right to transform to any other religion. This
ordinance may lead to elicit panic in the minorities.
The ordinance refuses agency to the almost half adult population. It describes
women, SCs and STs as vulnerable.
In broader sense it defines women as
individual who cannot think about herself. It does not matter how experienced,
self dependent, accomplished and educated she is. This thought is jingoistic and
unpleasantly promotes patriarchal supremacy. The ordinance if made into a
statute may lead to communal tension and divisiveness.
When we should be thinking about increasing petrol and LPG prices, higher rate
of unemployment, corruption in the government offices, increasing environmental
pollution, falling economy and so on, the policy makers are concerned with
religious rhetoric agendas.
- Shah, A. P. (2021). “Love Jihad” Ordinance Is Symbolic of Social Fabric
Being Aggressively Changed: Justice A.P. Shah. The Wire.
- Government of India. (2009). The Constitution of India. CreateSpace
Independent Publishing Platform.
- Ganguly, S. (2021, January 27). The problem with India's ‘love jihad'
laws. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/the-problem-with-indias-love-jihad-laws-152675
- Bills States. (2020). PRS Legislative Research. https://prsindia.org/bills/states/the-uttar-pradesh-prohibition-of-unlawful-conversion-of-religion-ordinance-2020#:%7E:text=in%20your%20browser.-,The%20Uttar%20Pradesh%20Prohibition%20of%20Unlawful%20Conversion%20of%20Religion%20Ordinance,and%20prohibits%20unlawful%20religious%20conversion.&text=A%20violation%20will%20also%20render%20the%20conversion%20illegal%20and%20void.
- Gaur, V. (2020, December 25). “Love Jihad” law: A match made in heaven,
judged on earth. The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/love-jihad-law-a-match-made-in-heaven-judged-on-earth/articleshow/79958162.cms
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Abhinav Krishna
Authentication No: AP110886827262-18-0421