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

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

Desist from academic censorship, stop threatening scholars: Letter to ICMR

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director, the Universal Health Organisation (UHO) which consists of prominent health experts, has insisted that the Government of India’s top medical research agency should lead high quality research on vaccine safety and “desist from academic censorship”.