‘Love Jihad’: SC issues notice on pleas challenging UP, Uttarakhand laws

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on the petitions challenging the laws made by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the name of ‘love jihad’ against religious conversions for the sake of marriages.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices V Ramasubramanian and AS Bopanna was considering the petitions filed by Vishal Thakre & others and social activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace'(CJP).

The bench, however, declined to stay the provisions of the laws which require prior permission for religious conversions for marriage.

Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, appearing for the CJP, sought for a stay on the provisions of the law which mandate that prior permission should be obtained for religious conversions for marriage. CU Singh submitted that the provisions are ‘oppressive’ and that ‘prior permissions to marry is absolutely obnoxious’. He submitted that many innocent persons have been picked up by police on the basis of UP Ordinance alleging ‘Love Jihad’.

The bench was not inclined to entertain the petitions and asked the petitioners to approach the respective High Courts.

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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the Allahabad High Court was already considering the challenge against the laws.

“The challenge is already pending in High Courts. Why don’t you go there? We are not saying you have a bad case. But you must approach the High Courts in the first instance instead of coming to SC directly”, CJI repeatedly said.

But the CJI changed his mind after CU Singh and Advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav(appearing in the connected matter) submitted that they are challenging laws of two states, which are creating widespread problems in the society. The lawyers submitted that more states, like Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, are mulling similar laws.

When cases are pending in more than one High Courts, it is appropriate that the apex court considers the matter, Yadav submitted.

“Alright. We will issue notice”, CJI said after much persuasion by CU Singh and Yadav.

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However, the CJI was not inclined to consider CU Singh’s prayer for interim relief at present saying that it required detailed hearing.

“You are asking for a relief which we cannot entertain under Article 32. Whether provision is arbitrary or oppressive needs to be seen. This is the problem when you come directly to the Supreme Court”, CJI remarked while ordering notice. The notice is returnable within 4 weeks.

The petitions challenge the constitutional validity of the recently passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018.

The CJP, in its PIL filed through Advocate Tanima Kishore, has contended that the provisions of the impugned Act and Ordinance, both violate Article 21 of the Constitution as it empowers the State to suppress an individual’s personal liberty and impinge upon an individual’s right to freedom of choice and right to freedom of religion.

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