As many states proposed a new law to deal with the rising number of cases of love jihad, the ‘secular’ opposition is arguing that such a law is unconstitutional and illegal. “Such a law is against sections 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Then abolish the Special Marriage Act. They should read the constitution before talking about the law,” said Owaisi, the leader of AIMIM.
Owaisi was probably referring to Article 14 of the constitution which is about equality before the law. “Protection of life and liberty and equality before the law – No person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to the procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the law within the territory of India,” reads the Article 14.
Article 21 is also about equality before law and right to life, it reads, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
However, none of these laws prevents the state from making a law against those who force their spouse/lover to convert to another faith. Also, those who change names in order to marry a girl of another faith, thus cheating the girl, could also not be protected under Article 14 and Article 21 which is about equality before law and right to life.
So far, five BJP-ruled states- Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam- have promised to bring a law to address the rising number of cases of love jihad in India.
What the BJP ruled states are trying to address is an unlawful conversion because religious conversion is the motive behind most of the cases of love jihad. More than 80 per cent of the cases of Love Jihad are related to religious conversion, not love. There have been thousands of cases reported where it was found that there is a catalogue of prices for Muslim men who marry women of other faith and forcefully convert them into their own religious faith.
The proposed law by Uttar Pradesh addresses unlawful conversion from all religions. “The Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion Bill 2020… does not treat religious conversion in terms of ‘Hindu-Muslim’ only. Instead, it is applicable to all religions,” said Justice Aditya Mittal, who heads the UP Law Commission – an advisory body to the state law department.
“It only proposes that religious conversion by force, or by giving inducement or by facilitating conversion through marriages, should be included in the category of crime. Under this law, religious conversion is allowed, but conversion by force or through any kind of inducement is not,” he added.
Love Jihad is actually a misnomer because if there is actual love, then the question of jihad does not rise. While ‘Jihad’ means a struggle for the Muslim faith, ‘Love Jihad’ is a term that means waging jihad through fake love and conversion.
Most of the other state laws would be probably modelled after the law introduced by the Uttar Pradesh government whose draft is named ‘Unlawful Conversion Bill 2020’ and has no mention of the term ‘Love Jihad’. Therefore, the issue here is not about people of two faiths marrying each other but about ‘unlawful conversions’ which constitutional scholars like Owaisi fail to understand ‘deliberately’.