IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Uncivil proposal: On laws to curb 'love jihad'

4th November, 2020 Editorial

Context: Proposal by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to enact a law to curb what they call ‘love jihad’.

  • This idea amounts to legitimizing patriarchy, communalism and hate against inter-faith marriages and relationships in which one of the parties is a Muslim man.
  • Reasons for bringing in such a law seems to be that the “honour” of Hindu women is under threat from zealous Muslim youth seeking to win over girls from other communities for religious conversion in the name of love and marriage.
  • The flaws in the concept are quite obvious:
  • There is no legal sanction to self-serving and political terms such as ‘love jihad’ and there can be no legislation based on an extra-legal concept.
  • Legislative intervention in marriages involving consenting adults will be clearly unconstitutional.
  • The domain of matrimony is occupied by separate laws governing weddings that take place under religious traditions.
  • Special Marriage Act, enables a secular marriage, including between couples from different faiths.

Same mistakes

  • Using the term ‘love jihad’ in a communal sense violates right to make personal choice.
  • Term ‘love jihad’ is not defined in law. Investigation into marriages that purportedly raised such a suspicion also failed to find any substance in the allegations.

Court interpretations:

  • In a recent Allahabad High Court judgment, court frowned upon religious conversion solely for the purpose of marriage.
  • It had found such an expedient conversion unacceptable, citing a similar 2014 verdict in which the court had questioned the bonafides of conversions without change of heart or any conviction in the tenets of the new religion.
  • Although the court strayed from the issue at hand, its objective was to underscore that conversion should not become a device.
  • It is indeed salutary as a principle that inter-faith couples retain their religious beliefs separately and opt for marriage under the Special Marriage Act.
  • However, this principle cannot be used to derogate from personal choice or become a ruse to interfere in the individual freedom to forge matrimonial alliances.