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Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to expeditiously list a petition filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace challenging the validity of laws against ‘love jihad’ and conversion in BJP-governed states, purportedly to curb alleged conversion of girls through inter-faith marriages in breach of right to freedom of religion.
Appearing for CJP and its secretary Teesta Setalvad, advocate CU Singh told a bench headed by CJI DY handrachud that though the SC had issued notices to UP, MP, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on January 6 last year, the matter has not been heard for over one and half years. The bench agreed to list the petition for hearing as soon as possible.
The PIL termed the state actions divisive, anti-secular and, importantly, breaching the fundamental right to choose a life partner of one’s choice. It said these laws have emboldened rampaging mobs to barge into ceremonies and disrupt interfaith marriages, which is incomprehensible in a civilised society. It also questioned the laws on the ground that these put the onus on the inter-faith couple to show that conversion was not for the purpose of marriage. The punishment of 10 years imprisonment prescribed by the laws is onerous, it had said.
On February 3, 2021, the SC had refused to entertain a PIL by People’s Union for Civil Liberties raising identical issues mentioned in the CJP’s petition and had said it would be better to await the decisions of the high courts, which are already examining the validity of these legislations. An SC bench had said, “We came to know that Allahabad HC and Uttarakhand HC have entertained pleas against such laws and have refused a petition seeking transfer of these petitions to SC… We would like to have the opinion of HCs which are hearing petitions now.”

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