Skip to main content

Gujarat love jihad Bill infringes on women's rights, 'criminalises' marginalized Muslims

Counterview Desk 

In a memorandum submitted to Gujarat governor Acharya Devrat, signatories on behalf of the India's top civil society network, National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), Gujarat, has said that the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021, passed recently in the state assembly, is "unconstitutional, infringes on the rights of women and polarizes the society along lines of religion."
Stating that the Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly, driven by the vicious propaganda of “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory by Hindutva supremacists which propagates the falsehood that Hindu women are “lured” into marriages by Muslim men, the memorandum says, on April 9, 2021, the Supreme Court Bench observed that “every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion or who their life partner should be."
Asking the governor not to accent to the Bill, NAPM insists, "The Bill has adverse implications on personal liberty, the rule of law and equality before law."

Text:

The Gujarat assembly recently passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to regulate religious conversions under the garb of inter-faith marriages. We, the signatories of this memorandum, as part of civil society would like to express our deepest concern and objection to this Bill which in our view is unconstitutional, infringes on the rights of women and polarizes the society along lines of religion.
The Bill, which has been passed by the Legislative Assembly, was driven by the vicious propaganda of “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory by Hindutva supremacists which propagates the falsehood that Hindu women are “lured” into marriages by Muslim men. This premise itself is outrageous and flawed at multiple levels. It is public knowledge that the Union Ministry in February 2020 had admitted that the term “love jihad” is not defined by law and thus not recognized legally. Consequently there is no data or evidence to show cases where any crime is committed. This notwithstanding there is a concerted effort by Hindu supremacist to normalize this imaginary narrative by constant and persistent public rhetoric sans any reliable data.
This emotive issue is used to stigmatize the Muslim community by portraying the Muslim men as predatory. Equally of concern is the fact that the Bill infantilizes women and robs them of agency. Women as equal citizens of the country are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about their choices in the matters of marriage, sexuality and control over their own bodies. In fact it is their constitutional prerogative.
This above prerogative is upheld in numerous landmark judgments by the High Courts and Supreme Court in India. Very recently, ironically in the face of a similar law in the State of Uttar Pradesh, High Court of Allahabad observed:
“Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty. Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.”
The Supreme Court in the judgment in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India upheld the right to privacy. Who the consenting adults have relationships with and marry is matter of their privacy and cannot be intruded upon. Similarly, the SC in the famous Shafin Jahan v Ashokan KM judgment not only observed that there was no evidence to support the dubious theory of “love jihad” but also upheld that the right to marry the person of one’s own choice is integral part of article 21 of the Constitution.
Article 21 of the Constitution states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. Article 25 states, “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health”.
Gujarat Legislative Assembly has passed the Bill despite the clear legal jurisprudence on the matter of love jihad
Just recently, on April 9, 2021, while dismissing as withdrawn a PIL seeking, among other things, to control ‘mass conversion through intimidation’, the Supreme Court Bench made the observation that “every person is the final judge of their own choice of religion or who their life partner should be. Courts cannot sit in judgment of a person’s choice of religion or life partner”.
The passing of this Bill by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly is alarming as it has been passed despite the clear legal jurisprudence on the matter of “love jihad”. It is adequately clear that the Bill seeks to address an alleged wrong or a situation that doesn’t exist.
In fact, the real intent of the Bill is to give legitimacy and institutionalize a sectarian campaign which could lead to communal conflicts and criminalization of the already marginalized Muslim community. That the narrative of “love jihad” which the Bill wants to counter is a hoax, is clear from the arguments placed in the Assembly by Pradipsinh Jadeja, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home.
The real intent is to nurture a form of political and ideological assertion and intimidation; and this is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that that the term “love Jihad” doesn’t find a mention even once in this Bill! The Bill has adverse implications on personal liberty, the rule of law and equality before law -- the ideas which are the very soul of the Constitution. This Bill seeks to blatantly destroy constitutional morality.
Keeping the above in mind, the signatories to this letter urge Your Excellency to reconsider the said Bill which has been passed by the Legislative Assembly. This Bill, if finally granted assent by the Hon’ble Governor and becomes a piece of legislation, would do irreversible damage to the struggle for women’s rights, harmonious inter-community relations and the respect for diversity within the society.
As the Guardian of the Constitution, we plead that Your Excellency reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President using the power bestowed on you under Article 200 of the Constitution.
 May the truth and constitutional morality prevail! 
---
 Click  here for signatories

Comments

Jatin Sheth said…
These organizations protesting against the act must also demand (1) Common Civil Code for all citizens of India removing different acts for different religions. (2)Provision of polygamy for Muslims is very much against women for whom they have pleaded equality. Triple talak is now illegal but it was also a tradition which needed to be protested by these very organizations (3)They must demand better schools and educational opportunities for Muslims based on science,logic and humanity. Muslims need reformists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy who protested jungli tradition of Sati Pratha. Time has come to respect and love people and follow true religion of humanity.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Dalit Hindi professor intimidated, harassed by saffron brigade: 400 activists, academics

Counterview Desk  Over 400 academics and activists have expressed alarm at the Lucknow University ‘protests’ on May 10 against Dr Ravi Kant, associate professor of Hindi and a Dalit, stating it is nothing but “intimidation and abuse” over his remarks on the online channel Satya Hindi, which were taken out of context and made viral on social media. “We are even more concerned that such an incident should occur within the confines a university campus, where free speech and expression without fear must ideally be the norm. Violence and intimidation over differences of opinion should never occur in a university”, the statement regrets, asking the authorities at the university and the Uttar Pradesh government to assure him and his family “protection from further harassment or intimidation.” Text: We are a group of academics and activists deeply concerned by the public heckling and intimidation of Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit scholar, on the premises of t