The Uttar Pradesh government will submit a response to the petition challenging the recent ordinance against religious conversion. The Allahabad High Court had asked the government to submit a reply to the petition by Jan 4th, the HC will be hearing the case on Jan 7th.
The High court on December 18th had asked the govt to respond to the petition after hearing a PIL from Advocate Saurabh Kumar, who challenged the constitutional validity of the ordinance against forceful religious conversions including for the sake of marriage.
What is the ordinance?
The ordinance terms conversion through “force, coercion, undue influence, deceit or by way of alluring to marriage” as a cognizable and non-bailable offence. It prescribes 3 to 5 years of jail for the conversion of women and SC/STs and 3 to 10 years of jail for mass conversion.
What is the petition?
According to the petition CM Yogi Adityanath announced on October 31st, that he would bring about a law against “Love Jihad”, a term used to describe the alleged activity of Muslim men trying to convert Hindu women in the guise of love. A draft ordinance that provided a jail term of 10 years for violators, was approved by the state government on 24th November.
The main contentions of the PIL were that the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition on religious conversion ordinance is morally and constitutionally invalid because it violates the right to choose and the right to change of faith.
The PIL also contended that it gave policing powers over a person’s choice of a life partner or religion which violates Article 21 which deals with the right to privacy, human dignity, and personal liberty. Moreover, the plea says that the very idea of forcing an individual to explain and justify his personal choice to a state magistrate violates the constitution.
The petitioner requested the High Court to declare the ordinance as a violation of the constitution and also to direct the authorities not to take any step under the law during the period of the pendency of the petition.
What the Allahabad HC said
The UP government explained to the court that this ordinance was important to restore law and order in the state.
The HC during the ruling refused to give any interim relief and asked the govt to file a counter affidavit by Jan 4th.
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