Conversion just for sake of marriage may be ‘immoral’ but can’t be criminalized, says Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind; seeks impleadment in plea assailing “Love Jihad” law

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading organizations of Islamic scholars belonging to the Deobandi school of thought, has approached the Supreme Court seeking an audience in a batch of petitions challenging the validity of Uttar Pradesh’s controversial ‘Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020’, also called the “Love Jihad” Ordinance which regulates marriage-related religious conversions.

The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice in the petitions.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the applicant, contends that the practice of converting to religion just for the sake of marriage might at worst be termed as ‘ethically objectionable’ or ‘immoral’, however, the same cannot be criminalized.

Attacking the Ordinance for being ‘Unconstitutional’, Jamiat says Muslim youth were being targeted and demonized by using the “Love Jihad” Ordinance, which is violative of Right to Equality, Right to Life, and Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.

The plea contends that the definition of term “Allurement” is defined very broadly in the Ordinance which even includes providing a gift to the person who is sought to be converted.

For instance, the plea states, if a preacher simply gives a discourse about the positive tenets of his religion, which prompts anyone hearing it to convert, it would amount to illegal “allurement” under the Ordinance.

“The provisions of the Ordinance energize the community groups and reinforce the social asymmetries to further disempower an individual”, the plea states.

The plea argues that the requirement of mandatory declaration for conversion violates the State’s promise to its citizens of maintaining religious neutrality.

Referring to the “misuse” of the Ordinance, the plea states that the Ordinance brings a shadow of criminality over inter-faith marriages.

It also empowers disgruntled family members to slap criminal cases on couples who got married defying their diktats.

The plea has been filed through Advocate-on-Record Ejaz Maqbool.